WHEN it comes to outreach Chester Law School is not only prolific but thriving with several successful outreach projects that are making an impact on the local community.
From supporting schools, charities, and families in need, to inspiring legal minds of the future, Law students from the University of Chester are using their expertise for the good of society.
The past year has seen scores of students offer their knowledge for free and outside of their studies, helping groups of people that could benefit from a little guidance on legal issues as part of the Chester Community Law Project.
Initiatives have included working with Cheshire West Voluntary Action to provide interactive, live training online to charity trustees on issues such as data protection, roles and responsibilities, and safeguarding.
They’ve also seen partnerships with Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), to support team leaders in areas such as employment tribunal procedures and family-friendly rights in the workplace.
Other organisations to have benefited from the ‘Citizen Student’ Chester Community Law Projects (CCLP) schemes include The Welcome Network which connects community groups, charities and local authority partner agencies across Cheshire West and Chester to help reduce food poverty.
Most recently, Law students teamed up with Graphic Design students from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities to create a series of leaflets for The Welcome Network about legal issues that may impact local residents, which are to be distributed via food bank deliveries and collection boxes.
As well as working with the Chester and Warrington Business Growth Project (BGP), to make webinar content for start-up businesses, they’ve worked with Passion for Learning and the Blacon Education Village to deliver six interactive, live online sessions on the law and legal principles to year five and six pupils in several schools in the local community.
Emma-Louise Simpson is a founder member of the CCLP and will be heading up the forthcoming Reach Out: Employment Law and Reach Out to Girls: Empowerment through Law programmes.
She said: “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved over the past 12 months and even more so for the future of the project and the impact it will have on our local community.
“These free services will empower, support and guide people in areas which are not necessarily familiar or easily accessible to them.
“I’m passionate about heading up the Reach Out: Employment Law and Reach Out to Girls: Empowerment through Law programmes and working alongside the CAB and local Girlguiding groups. I feel very privileged to be able to help inspire young women about the history of the laws which protect them and equipping them with the knowledge of rights on how to uphold them.”
Julie Grifo, Co-Founder and Director of CCLP, added: “It’s overwhelming to see the hard work from last year coming to light. Last year, we focused on starting up the project, networking and getting to grips with how to make it a success. This year, all that work has transpired.
“Our projects aim to help the community learn new things about the law and how they can use it themselves. I want to be able to make the law more accessible for everyone and level the playing field. The efforts of pro-bono work can really change lives and I hope I can be a part of helping those who need the law to make those changes.”
Marisa Salvi, Project Manager for CCLP’s Reach out to Families initiative, added: “We aim to make the law accessible by guiding a variety of different topics within the family sector.
“These cover, family-friendly rights in the workplace – including maternity, paternity, parental leave and flexible working – and providing step-by-step guidance in areas such as completing benefit related forms and grants such as Universal Credit.
“We also give family-related guidance outside of the workplace, including custody rights after separation or divorce, joint tenancy, joint debt issues after separation, neighbour disputes, housing and lots more.”
Andy Todd, Senior Lecturer in Law and pro bono and community outreach lead for the Law School said: “We could not be more proud of our wonderful volunteers who are making all of this happen and working so hard outside of their studies to make a difference to our local communities. “The passion and commitment shown by all of our student volunteers, project managers and directors are second to none, and it’s testament to their resilience and enthusiasm that we’re able to connect so successfully with our local communities during such trying times. Our volunteers really are a true inspiration.”