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Herbert Smith Freehills lawyers in collaboration with the in-house legal team at Goldman Sachs International provide free independent and confidential legal advice to young people supported by Centrepoint.

Centrepoint is the UK's leading youth homelessness charity, working directly with some of the most vulnerable, disenfranchised and socially excluded members of society. Every year, Centrepoint helps around 10,000 young people to tackle the issues that led them to become homeless and give them the vital support they need to get a job and a home of their own.

Our lawyers advise remotely via video link or telephone to engage with young people across Centrepoint's UK-wide network, with issues ranging from housing, employment, care leaver rights and civil liberties. We undertake follow-up work and support 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 clinic delivers.

DB, Centrepoint staff member, on working with pro bono service

Case studies

We advised a young person seeking to challenge the decision of social services to treat care provided to her when she was a teenager as section 17 rather than section 20 support under the Children Act 1989. This meant she would not be entitled to follow on support after turning 18, including assistance to move to accommodation nearer her family network. The young person was able to use the advice we provided on her rights and how to challenge the decision, successfully appealing and securing an apology from social services and a move to her family's local area.

We advised a young person whose landlord had cleared and destroyed all his belongings in error. He had claimed compensation for his losses, but the landlord offered only a small sum and subjected him to repeated phone calls and pressure to accept his offer. Following correspondence drafted by our lawyers to the landlord on the young person's behalf, the offer of compensation increased substantially and was accepted.

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 over £35,000 through reduced overpayments, reinstatements of suspended benefits and recalculation of existing claims. This has significantly reduced Centrepoint's arrears burden and reduced or removed any threat of eviction for the claimants themselves.