Based at our Birmingham Office
Birmingham Community Law Centre
97 Walford Road
Salary negotiable up to £31,942 based on experience and qualifications
We seek an experienced caseworker to manage a specialist housing advice caseload.
Central England Law Centre is the UK’s largest Law Centre, with a national reputation for innovation and excellence in its legal practice.
Following the opening of an office in Birmingham in late 2013, Coventry Law Centre agreed a change to its name to create Central England Law Centre, comprising two ‘operating organisations’: Coventry Law Centre, whose activities focus on Coventry and Warwickshire, and Birmingham Community Law Centre, whose activities focus on Birmingham.
You will join our established and well respected Housing team and will be based at Birmingham Community Law Centre. BCLC meets local community advice needs in the second most deprived neighbourhood in Birmingham, where the migrant population is 76%
The office has grown rapidly since 2013 and we are now able to offer expertise in welfare benefits, debt, community care, immigration and public law.
BCLC has just been awarded a legal aid contract in housing and we have funding from the Oak Foundation’s Housing and Homelessness Programme; so we have an exciting opportunity to establish a new housing service at BCLC. We are seeking a highly motivated, experienced solicitor/caseworker who is inspired by the opportunity to work as part of a team who are using legal solutions to improve lives in an area where many people are living with enduring poverty or disadvantage.
Terms and conditions include a 37 hour week, 28 days holiday plus 8 statutory days, and pension scheme membership.
Closing date: 10.00 am 20 February 2018. Interviews will be held on 23 February 2018.
We strive to be an equal opportunities employer.
Central England Law Centre
Central England Law Centre is a charity that comprises two ‘operating organisations’: Coventry Law Centre, whose activities focus on Coventry and Warwickshire, and Birmingham Community Law Centre, whose activities focus on Birmingham.
Coventry Law Centre was established in 1976 with the support of Coventry City Council to provide free legal advice and representation to people facing disadvantage in Coventry. In 2013 after the closure of Birmingham Law Centre, Coventry Law Centre opened Birmingham Community Law Centre in Sparkbrook. In 2015 we changed our name to Central England Law Centre Limited to encompass both organisations.
To fight social exclusion in communities and to effect change in society by increasing rights awareness and using legal processes to fight poverty, inequality and discrimination. Central England Law Centre is the UK’s largest Law Centre. Our size enables us to provide legal expertise across nine different areas of social welfare law:
- Health & Community Care
- Immigration and Asylum
- Money and Debt
- Public Law
- Welfare Benefits
This means that we can offer services that can address all of the interconnected problems people face in their everyday lives. Our services are rooted in the communities we serve and we are an organisation that uses its legal expertise to improve the lives of those who are vulnerable and socially excluded due to poverty, illness or disability.
Our services focus on those people in our community who are on the edge. They are often isolated and excluded from much of what is regarded as mainstream and they are ‘vulnerable’. By which we mean their lives are not stable and things can easily go wrong. This might be because they are living in poverty and any change in their circumstances can lead to a significant problem; it may be because they have a disability or a long term condition; it may be because their immigration status is unresolved. They may be a victim of domestic violence; or they may be homeless or threatened with homelessness.
We know that the law can offer these people protection and it is the framework for society that offers an opportunity for them to resolve their problems, to remove barriers that are holding them back – to move forward in life and to fulfil their potential.
We believe that the foundation for a strong community is equality and access to justice for all.
We offer specialist advice, representation and advocacy, and our aim is to use the law to seek change, so that those facing poverty or disadvantage, discrimination or exclusion are better able to take a full and active part in society.
We take on test cases that may well have an impact beyond the actual case fought. We produce leaflets, give talks and maintain a website to help individuals have awareness of their rights and to make informed decisions.
Last year we helped nearly 9000 people across our 2 offices and we opened 3700 cases. Over the years we have secured tens of millions of pounds for clients in arrears, additions to income and compensation. We also succeed in cases which cannot be given a monetary value, such as preventing evictions, advising about immigration and asylum matters and combating discrimination.
A board of trustees, who are the Directors of Central England Law Centre – a company limited by guarantee, governs the Law Centre. The Trustees meet monthly to monitor the Law Centre’s work and give general guidance on policy and direction. The Law Centre employs a Chief Executive, solicitors, caseworkers, admin and reception staff. Staff are organised into teams with a supervisor to lead and manage them. The Chief Executive is responsible to the Trustees for the running of the Law Centre and advises them on policy issues.
Each team covers one or two areas of law. Staff generally work in only one team but we recognise that many cases cross team boundaries and supervisors therefore need to be able to work closely with other teams where their expertise is needed.
Birmingham Community Law Centre
Birmingham Community Law Centre opened in October 2013. We provide legal advice on benefits, debt, community care, and public law from our offices in Sparkbrook. We are part of Central England Law Centre which has offices in both Coventry and Birmingham. We employ 7 staff with 5 volunteers
We deal with the law that affects everyday life. We do this in two ways:
(1) BCLC meets local community advice needs in the second most deprived neighbourhood in Birmingham, where the migrant population is 76%. In our community solicitor advice sessions, we deal with Welfare Benefits and Debts as well as an assortment of other legal issues for the local established migrant community. Our solicitor, Habib Ullah, is able to conduct culturally sensitive advice sessions in community languages and to understand the needs of the local community and build their trust in us.
(2) We also offer specialist expertise in migrants’ rights through a city wide network of organisations within which we have built a strong reputation for undertaking complex and challenging casework in:
- Migrants rights – access to asylum support, Children Act and Care Act support, impact of immigration status on benefits entitlement;
- Community Care – Children Act and Care Act support for those with NRPF;
- Public law challenges;
- Benefits Upper Tribunal challenges
We also offer training and guidance to other advice agencies across the city.
Birmingham Community Law Centre’s approach is to combine practical legal solutions at an early stage alongside complex and strategic legal challenges that can positively affect many other clients following behind.
Strategic aims and sustainability: Our medium term plan is to expand our legal aid work in order to widen our reach and expertise as well as to strengthen the law centre to cope with a decrease in grant funding as we move towards statutory funding and contract work. The Legal Aid Agency will tender all legal aid contracts in March 2018 and it is our intention to be in a position to bid for (i) an extension to our community care and public law contracts, (ii) a new asylum and immigration contract, and (iii) a housing contract.
It is also our intention to work in partnership with Birmingham City Council to test out a funded model of providing timely, high quality immigration advice to those families and others being supported by the local authority as most of this work is outside of the scope of legal aid.
We have recently secured three year’s funding from the Oak Foundation to support our expansion plans. It is this funding that means we can now recruit an immigration caseworker. The work we will focus on initially will be resolving the immigration status of families with no recourse to public funds, along with family reunion, and a focus on immigration matters that stabilise families. In 2018, we expect to secure a legal aid asylum contract and the post holder will begin taking on asylum cases in order to build legal aid income and to sustain the service in the longer term.