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Connect Legal Advice Clinic

Providing legal advice to homeless young people in England

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Connect Legal Advice Clinic is a collaboration between the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, the in-house legal team at Goldman Sachs International and Herbert Smith Freehills. Centrepoint supports more than 10,000 homeless 16-25 year olds across England into a home and a job every year. Together we provide free, confidential legal advice to young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.

Lawyers advise clients remotely via video link to any of Centrepoint's hostels, or via telephone, on housing, employment, consumer and civil liberties law. We undertake follow-up work or provide onward referrals where necessary.

We also provide resources and training on legal issues to staff supporting Centrepoint's young people.

Intralinks provides a deal room on a pro bono basis to enable the organisations involved to share documents securely.

"My experience with the clinic has been excellent. I have sought their help with a variety of complex issues facing our young people, and they have quickly become my first port of call. Each time, staff have been responsive, flexible and person-centred, unlike the more bureaucratic external organisations from which I have sought advice in the past. I have been able to support young people more effectively to plan for their future. Knowledge is empowering; expert knowledge is what the Connect Legal Advice Clinic delivers."

DB, Centrepoint staff member, on working with Connect Legal Advice Clinic

 

Case studies

Tenancy disputes

We represented a client whose landlord had cleared and destroyed all his belongings in error. The tenant had claimed compensation for his losses, but the landlord offered only £300 and subjected him to repeated phone calls and pressure to accept his offer. Following correspondence drafted by the Connect volunteers to the landlord on the client's behalf, the offer of compensation increased substantially and we achieved a settlement.

Recovering housing benefits

Many young people face eviction due to rent arrears that are the result of housing benefit errors. Following training by housing and homelessness advocacy organisation Shelter, our lawyers have taken on these cases for Centrepoint clients. Since this project began we have recovered thousands of pounds in housing benefit which has significantly reduced Centrepoint's arrears burden and secured the positions of the clients themselves.