Proof Magazine Launch in Parliament

ProofI spent a wonderful afternoon in Parliament on the 18th of July, leading a delegation from Hackney Community Law Centre to the House of Commons for the launch of the issue 3 of Proof Magazine – ‘Why legal aid matters‘.

The publication, produced by The Justice Gap (for whom I am a commissioning editor) and The Justice Alliance – a coalition of charities, community groups, legal campaigners and trade unions who campaign against Government cuts to legal aid – tells the story of why legal aid matters promoting the campaign to highlight the devastating impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), which was introduced by the former coalition government in 2012. The magazine was funded through a crowdfunding campaign I ran in June 2016.

Team HCLC and Julius

It was wonderful that Julius Holgate, a Hackney Community Law Centre client, came up to Parliament with my colleagues and I to speak about his terrible experience with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Julius is a double amputee with no legs who had been assessed ‘fit for work’ by the DWP. The DWP had argued that because he had arms, he could use them to ‘climb’ stairs and so had ‘mobility’. When his benefits were cut, Julius fell into debt and had to pawn his jewellery to survive. It was only when Hackney Community Law Centre got involved – despite there being no legal aid funding to do so – that the DWP overturned this decision. Continue reading “Proof Magazine Launch in Parliament”

Tottenham Community Press

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I am really pleased to have joined the advisory board of the new Tottenham Community Press newspaper.

Tottenham Community Press (TCP) is a free, independent, community newspaper which launched in November 2016. It’s a print newspaper and currently publishes on a bi-monthly basis.

TCP operates as a not-for-profit publication written by and for local people. It aims to reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the Tottenham area, to celebrate its rich traditions and cultural heritage.

The Tottenham Community Press marks a return to real local news, giving readers the chance to learn more about what’s going on in their area and to read (and write) news stories about what matters them. It relies on local advertising to provide this service.

The aim of TCP is to promote the work of local community organisations and voluntary sector groups, along with arts and cultural activities taking place in Tottenham. Furthermore, it wants to provide an opportunity for local people to contribute and raise important issues.

I am absolutely chuffed to be involved with this brilliant local media initiative.

In an era where “fake news” is becoming the norm, it’s time for ordinary people to take back control of the way their community and their stories are depicted online and in the mainstream media. In an area like Tottenham, which still suffers enormous stigma after the 2011 London riots, giving local people back their own voice is even more important.

I look forward to working with TCP’s Editor Ellie Ward; Publisher David Floyd; Designer Jonathan Duncan; Project Manager Anna Merryfield; and Social Media volunteer Louise Davidson to make TCP a success.

TCP is looking for contributors, photographers, local advertisers and anyone who wants to offer their support. Please email tcp@socialspider.com if you have something to offer!

Proof Magazine Roundtable

Proof Magazine Roundtable

I was delighted to participate in a recent roundtable discussion on the future of Legal Aid. The roundtable, which was organised by the Justice Alliance and chaired by Guardian journalist Shiv Malik, will be turned into a feature in a special edition of the Justice Gap‘s Proof MagazineThe issue will focus entirely on legal aid.

Other participants at the roundtable included Richard Burgon MP, the Shadow Justice Secretary; Greg Powell, solicitor and former president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association; Deborah Coles, Director of Inquest; Vakas Hussain, barrister and press officer of British Muslim Youth; and Gloria Morrison from campaign group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association (JENGbA).

The discussion was excellent. Everyone who contributed had a professional or campaign interest in legal aid but it was clear that they also cared deeply about access to justice issues on a personal level. It was an real honour to be invited to take part and be in such esteemed company.

The first two issues of Proof Magazine have focused on ‘Justice in a Time of Moral Panic‘ and ‘The Limits of Open Justice‘. The special issue on legal aid will be published shortly. It promises to be a informative and long overdue read.