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Immigration lawyer says Suffolk Law Advice Centre is ‘desperately needed’

PUBLISHED: 15:54 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:54 08 November 2017

Supporters gather at ISCRE in Ipswich to mark National Pro Bono Week. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Supporters gather at ISCRE in Ipswich to mark National Pro Bono Week. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

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A Suffolk immigration lawyer who offers free legal advice to disadvantaged people has backed a campaign to open a law centre in the county.

Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) is leading an appeal to raise £40,000 towards the creation of Suffolk Law Advice Centre, which will provide free legal advice, casework and representation for people who cannot afford to pay privately.

Today, ISCRE held an open day at its offices in Ipswich to mark National Pro Bono Week.

Sallie Davies, of Immigration Legal Services, has been providing free advice for clients at ISCRE since 2005 through the charity’s weekly Thursday evening clinics.

Speaking at today’s event, Ms Davies said Suffolk Law Advice Centre was “desperately needed”.

She added: “It’s been a source of amazement to me how Suffolk is such a wasteland for legal aid work and there’s a vast need of people who can’t afford legal fees and lawyers and just can’t enforce their rights and get on with their lives. I have seen it many times.

“It can be just as debilitating as having a health condition, having an unresolved legal situation, because lives can be completely blighted by the problem.”

During the open day at ISCRE, lawyers gave free legal advice to around 16 people, including Ipswich woman Margaret Moore who was referred by Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau.

The 59-year-old said she endorsed the campaign to launch Suffolk Law Advice Centre, adding: “You never know when you will want help.”

A woman, who asked not to be named, sought advice on applying for British citizenship for her son.

A former refugee from Kosovo, the woman has been in Suffolk for 17 years and her son is born and bred in the county. The mother said Suffolk Law Advice Centre was “more than needed”.

The fundraising total has reached £6,200 and donations were being collected throughout the open day.

Anthony Wooding, an artist and solicitor at Kerseys Solicitors, has created Christmas cards to sell, with all proceeds going towards the law centre appeal, backed by this newspaper.

Audrey Ludwig, director of legal services at ISCRE, said the campaign had been “hugely supported” since its launch, but more donations were required.

She added: “People don’t have to give us a lot of money if they can’t, even a small donation is a sign of support and a sign that [the law centre] is needed.”

To donate, see here.

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