Wednesday 20 April 2016

GLC recruitment: vacancy for a Solicitor (Education Law Unit)

GLC recruitment: Solicitor (Education Law Unit)

GLC’s renowned Education Law Unit is looking for a solicitor to assist in the delivery of the ELU project objectives.  The post is full-time, and funding is in place until 31 March 2019. Competitive salary offered.

This position would be suitable for a solicitor who is dedicated and enthusiastic and wishes to join a progressive Law Centre to assist in the delivery and expansion of this Scotland wide project. As training will be provided, this could suit a recently/newly qualified solicitor who has an interest in Law Centre and Education work. The post is based in Orkney Street, Govan but some travel within Scotland will be required.

If you consider you are suitable for this position, please submit your CV together with an accompanying letter explaining your suitability and motivation for the post to Candy Walker, Service Manager, Govan Law Centre, Orkney Street Enterprise Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Glasgow G51 2BZ or by e-mail to cwalker@ by 12 NOON on Friday 13th May 2016. Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Govan Law Centre secures homes for 198 rough sleepers at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter

A detailed report on Govan Law Centre's (GLC) partnership work with the Glasgow City Mission's Winter Night Shelter is currently being prepared but we are in a position to release some key statistics. 

GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Project's Senior Manager, Alastair Sharp said:  "From 3 December 2015 to 31 March 2016, Govan Law Centre provided legal advice and representation and housing and homelessness case work support to homeless persons though two weekly 'Rights Hubs' at the Winter Shelter each week".

"Our legal interventions resulted in 198 rough sleepers in Glasgow securing homes through statutory homelessness services; we wrote over 200 letters for clients (with additional follow-up casework work for many clients) and undertook 32 Rights Hubs averaging 3.5 hours per session. We initiated proceedings in six Judicial Reviews at the Court of Session in Edinburgh securing accommodation and good outcomes for all of our clients".

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Preventing people sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow

Lorna Walker and Wendy Malloy 
Lorna Walker, Senior Solicitor at Govan Law Centre's Prevention of Homelessness Project explains how our partnership work with Glasgow City Mission's Glasgow Winter Night Shelter has helped prevent people sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow.

Most people are aware of the statistics that are thrown about regarding homeless people and rough sleepers in Glasgow; and although the statistics often shock us, we soon forget, because at the end of the day it is just a number.
I had the privilege of being involved as the solicitor from Govan Law Centre along with our prevention of homelessness caseworker Wendy Malloy at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter outreach hub. This gave us the opportunity to offer legal advice to people who were using the Winter Night Shelter.

Although Govan Law Centre's Prevention of Homelessness Team is involved in a number of outreach hubs across Glasgow, being welcomed into an environment where people have literally just woken up from sleeping on a mattress on the floor, instead of the streets is a whole new level. 
Throughout our time at the Winter Night Shelter we attended every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 3rd December 2015 to 31st March 2016 and we met with 10-15 people each week. Every week we threatened Glasgow City Council with numerous judicial reviews if our clients were not accommodated and often we had to start legal proceedings.

Unfortunately our final week at the shelter was no different, we were just as busy. We had to start legal proceedings for three of our clients, two of which were offered accommodation after we secured legal aid for them and they were accommodated before the Winter Night Shelter closed. However, one client was fleeing severe violence from another area in Scotland and he was not accommodated and, in fact, no homeless application was taken by the homelessness service - a clear breach of their statutory duties - and resulting in our client having to sleep rough on the streets of Glasgow all weekend until 5th April.
The Housing (Scotland) 1987 Act is well written and often the law is on the side of homeless people, but unfortunately despite our client presenting on several occasions to different casework teams across Glasgow a homeless application was still not taken by the council. We supported our client by providing numerous letters, emails and phone calls to homeless caseworkers, team leaders and Glasgow City Council’s solicitor demanding that they meet their statutory duty, which was clearly outlined to them in all our correspondence. Furthermore, our client worked closely with the Simon Community's Street Team who often attended with him to the council's homelessness casework teams.

We insisted that they take a homeless application and accommodate our client on a temporary basis while a full investigation is undertaken as per the law. The council failed to offer temporary accommodation to our client. This resulted in a significant deterioration in our client’s mental health which resulted in him self-medicating by using drugs as a coping mechanism.
Glasgow City Council repeatedly failed to meet their legal obligation in terms of the 1987 Act and the Scottish Government Code of Guidance on Homelessness. Firstly they failed to take a homeless application. Secondly, they failed to provide temporary accommodation. Thirdly, they failed to carry out full and proper investigation, and fourthly provide a right of review.
It then became necessary to instruct Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate and Principal Solicitor to draft a Petition for Judicial Review to be lodged in the Court of Session urgently. Once we sent it to our Edinburgh agents, the Council fulfilled its statutory duty and temporary accommodation was provided to our client whilst they investigated the matter fully. Legally, this should have been done when our client presented in the first instance.
Sadly this case is not unique and we have a high volume of casework to prove this. We are deeply concerned about the people that do not get the same support and are ignored. It was fortunate we were in the position to meet this young man at the Winter Night Shelter outreach and ensure he had his legal rights protected. We are aware more people need to be helped in this way.

We will continue to work hard to ensure the council fulfil their duty to people affected by homelessness; but with such well written homeless legislation, it is devastating that our intervention is even necessary. For many reasons, people are not aware of their rights, their mental and physical health deteriorates and their circumstances often become life threatening. Often this leads to lack of self- worth and low self- esteem and often people get ‘lost’ out in the cold (literally) without any support.