Housing Caseworker/Solicitor

Housing Caseworker/Solicitor
Based at our Birmingham Office
Birmingham Community Law Centre
97 Walford Road
B11 1NP

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 offices in Coventry and Birmingham, and a national reputation for innovation and excellence in its legal practice.

Our established and well respected Coventry Housing team is expanding to establish a new service in Birmingham. We have been awarded a legal aid contract in housing for Birmingham and we have funding from the Oak Foundation’s Housing and Homelessness Programme. Our Birmingham office has grown rapidly since it opened 2013 and we are now able to offer expertise in welfare benefits, debt, community care, immigration and public law.

Birmingham has seen a rise in rough sleeping of more 600% in recent years and more than 20,000 households in Birmingham each year present homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Our office is in the second most deprived neighbourhood in Birmingham, where the migrant population is 76%.

So there is much to do! We are seeking a highly motivated, experienced solicitor/caseworker to establish our new service; someone 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.

For an application pack please email recruitment@centralenglandlc.org.uk

Applications may be submitted by post or by email to recruitment@centralenglandlc.org.uk

Closing date: 10th August 2018. Interviews will be held on 16th August 2018.

We strive to be an equal opportunities employer.

Instructions to applicants

Coventry Law Centre and Birmingham Community Law Centre are trading names of Central England Law Centre. All our recruitment processes are handled by our Coventry office.

Please complete the application form and return it by 10th August 2018. You may submit it by e mail to recruitment@centralenglandlc.org.uk or by post addressed to the Narinder Shergill, in an envelope marked ‘job application’. Please do not submit a CV or any additional papers: we will only consider the information on the application form, which asks for all the information that we need.

Pay particular attention to the job description and person specification when completing the application form. Show how you meet each of the elements of the person specification. If you do not meet any element show how you have skills or experience that are similar or transferable.

We will confirm receipt of your application if you provide a stamped addressed envelope. We will telephone applicants that have been short listed to invite them for interview. Interviews will be held on 16th August 2018.

Please let us know of any arrangements we may need to make to enable you to attend for an interview. Our Coventry office is wheelchair accessible and has disabled toilet facilities, if you are attending an interview at our Birmingham office please let us know whether you need any assistance prior to coming to your interview.

The interview normally lasts for about an hour. The panel will consist of two people which will usually include the relevant Law Centre Team Head. A short written test may form a part of the selection process at interview and you may also be asked to make a short presentation to the panel. If this is the case you will be notified in your letter asking you to attend for interview.

We will take up references only after interview. We require references from two people who will be able to comment on your suitability for the role. Usually one should be your previous employer.

We monitor our selection process for compliance with our statement of commitment to equal opportunities. The first page is not available to those shortlisting and the final page of the application form is detached prior to the selection process and considered only after the appointment has taken place and then only for the purpose of ensuring that our selection process is fair.

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.

Our Purpose

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:

  • Discrimination
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Health & Community Care
  • Housing
  • 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.

The Law Centre is a charity employing solicitors and advice workers. Our main funder for our work in Coventry is Coventry City Council. We also receive funding from a variety of Foundations and Trust Funds. We hold a legal aid contract with the Legal Aid Agency.

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.

The Law Centre is a member of the national Law Centres Network. It is also a part of the network of advice centres in Coventry that includes a Coventry Independent Advice Services and Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau.

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.

You can find out more about the Law Centre by looking at our websites www.covlaw.org.uk and www.birminghamclc.org.uk

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 10 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.

(2) We also offer specialist expertise 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;
• Asylum and Immigration
• 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.

We have recently secured three year’s funding from the Oak Foundation to support our expansion plans. The Legal Aid Agency has tendered all legal aid contracts to commence in September 2018 and we have been notified that we have been awarded a housing contract for BCLC. We are therefore now in a position to develop a specialist housing advice service in Birmingham.

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