Local Advice Charity May Be Forced To Close

After Council award contract to organisation from outside borough


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Staff and volunteers at the Ealing Equality Council (EEC) have lost their bid to run an advice service and may be forced to close.

EEC - based at the Lido centre on Mattock Lane - have provided free community legal advice in the borough for over 20 years, but the Council has awarded a new contract led by Nucleas, an organisation based in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The Ealing Council contract was put out to tender to plug the gap left by the charity, Law for All, which had to shut last year because of funding shortages.

EEC, who were previously funded by an Equality and Human Rights Commissioned programme which ended in 2011, now face imminent closure.

Since last year they have been serving residents on very limited funding using a team of trained lawyers and solicitors who have worked for free, but they say the situation has now become unsustainable.

Voluntary and community groups in Ealing have expressed surprise that the contract has been awarded to an organisation that comes from outside the borough, without an established track record of serving the people of Ealing.

EEC volunteers don't believe Nucleas will be able to cope with the high demand for legal advice in Ealing. They say that they run morning and afternoon advice clinics everyday apart from Sunday, in different locations around the Borough but Nucleas only run ‘in quick’ advice sessions three days a week for a few hours.

Franklin Opara, Volunteer Legal Advisor, Ealing Equality Council says:
“We have over 85 highly qualified volunteers giving their time for free, but without money to pay for rent and other core running costs, we’ll have to close. This is really sad because people come to us distressed and in desperate need, with nowhere else to turn. We will have no choice but to start turning people away.”

Petrina Raby, Volunteer Legal Advisor, Ealing Equality Council says:
''Our volunteers are from all different cultures and religions, so we represent the diverse communities of Ealing. Because we’ve been here a long time, we’ve build up trust, and when you’re in crisis, you want to talk to someone familiar who you can trust. Setting up a new legal advice service when a thriving one already exits goes completely against common sense. It flies in the face of efficiency.”

A council spokesperson said: "After a rigorous and transparent competition, the council has awarded the contract for providing an interim free legal advice service to a consortium led by well-established legal advice service, Nucleus, and also including the Hammersmith and Fulham Community Law Centre and the Ealing Law Centre.

"This is great news for Ealing, because these organisations will be plugging a gap left by the collapse of Law for All last year. The council is investing £200,000 in this interim service while it finds a long-term solution that best meets the needs of local residents."





16th July 2012


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