There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, for a multitude of reasons. I have certainly had moments where I have retreated inwards and tried to forget about the world at large, and I believe that it is absolutely right that we all take some time for ourselves.
Whilst it has been difficult at times to look outwards, I am also aware that this pandemic has not affected everyone equally, and it has been those with the fewest resources who have inevitably been hit hardest. The effects of the pandemic on our already hamstrung legal aid system have resulted in a dramatic increase in demand for legal advice relating to debt, benefits, housing, employment, and community care.
It is estimated that up to half of advice agencies face the threat of closure. Having previously worked in an advice centre providing free legal advice in Tower Hamlets, I am aware of how vital it is for people to have access to free legal advice when they cannot afford to pay for it. A single session can ensure someone's safe accommodation for the night, or help protect them from an unfair dismissal at work.
With this in mind, I was keen to get involved with the events put on by the London Legal Support Trust this year, which they have hosted as an alternative to the annual London Legal Walk that Russell-Cooke would normally take part in. LLST are a charity that support advice centres offering free legal advice across London and the South East.
So, after (virtually) rounding up a team of 36 walkers, on 8 July we all set out on our various routes through parks, fields, and the city centre to partake in LLST'S 10,000 Steps for Justice Walk. Having worked from home full-time since March, it felt great to get out to Finsbury Park and get my steps in for the event. Even though we walked and ran separately, it was wonderful to see everyone's pictures from their walks.
Then, at the end of September and beginning of October we got busy once again to raise funds for LLST. This included people taking part in the Guildford Legal Walk and LLST's '10X Challenge', where people got creative and took on their own challenges for the charity. For my part, this consisted of 10 minutes of non-stop hula hooping and completing 100 minutes of yoga.
Over these various events, Russell-Cooke managed to raise more money this year than in all previous years, so far raising a total of £4,027.50. Getting involved in organising the events for LLST this year has allowed me to experience the joy of 'getting together' for a good cause, even when I cannot go to the office.
Our giving page will remain open until Christmas, so please help us raise more for LLST by visiting our fundraising page here.