At the AGM of the South West London Law Centres last week, guest speaker Richard Burgon MP, Shadow Justice Secretary, talked about the important role that law centres play in the community and his desire to see law centres become 'engines of empowerment' providing society's most vulnerable people with access to justice.

There are four centres serving South West London in Croydon, Merton, Kingston and Wandsworth. Housing, debt, employment and immigration are the biggest areas of work. Last year the SWLLC received over 60,000 calls for help and its website had almost 1.2million hits and the centres provided £2.2million worth of free advice and assistance.

The law clinics are actively supported by Russell-Cooke volunteers in all four locations. Partner Sarah Towler is an active member, currently acting Chair of the Board of Trustees, and a volunteer for many years. Sarah runs personal injury clinics in South-West London alongside associates Nimmisha AslamAlla KingswoodAmy Anderson and Teri Gauge-Klein. In Kingston, associate Natasha Kirk, senior associate James Sandiford and partner Samantha Little advise on family law matters.

Sarah Towler said: "the work these centres do is invaluable to the community. They serve the most vulnerable people in society in very challenging conditions. The staff and volunteers do an excellent job managing the demand for services and providing an excellent quality of advice and representation, resulting in them winning several national awards. Their efforts are even more significant given the fact that twice in the last 10 years they have faced insolvency and closure due to funding cuts and the huge cuts to legal aid."

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