The Walk Must Go On: The reinvention of the London Legal Walk
June 2, 2020
3 min read
What's going on here?
Each year the London Legal Support Trust (LLST), the organisers of the annual walk, have the mammoth task of organising one of London’s biggest and most-loved charity law fundraisers. Groups of legal professionals gather together to complete 10 km to raise money for free legal advice charities. This event is so popular that in the last year alone there were 15,000 walkers!
Unfortunately, like so many other charitable events, COVID-19 has spoilt their original plans. Yet, through LLST’s innovative response in creating the virtual “10,000 Steps for Justice”, the walk will go on! We here at LittleLaw, and the rest of the legal community, are committed to supporting those who need legal services the most, so we’ll be taking part in the virtual walk on 8 June.
What does this mean?
Instead of embarking on a 10 km walk through the City of London on 8 June, LLST has devised two solutions. Firstly, with the optimism that lockdown measures will have sufficiently calmed by autumn, the London Legal Walk in its original format has been postponed to 5 October. Over 500 teams have already signed up, from global law firms to chambers to legal publications, to replicate the success of 2019 which raised over £890,000.
Still taking place on 8 June, the second initiative “10,000 Steps for Justice” hopes to maintain valuable funding in the interim period for legal advice providers, such as local law centres and Citizens Advice. Participants are to complete 10,000 steps in the comfort of their own homes or local area (following social distancing advice) to be shared virtually and obtain sponsorship, replicating the community feel of the original event.
What's the big picture effect?
Access to justice and legal aid cannot and should not be forgotten amid a global pandemic. Economic crises naturally create more demand for legal advice from vulnerable individuals on issues such as housing, employment and debt. The work of this independent charity, which supports London and the South East, therefore, simultaneously helps to alleviate pressures and increase the sustainability and accessibility of these vital legal services in the nation’s capital.
The position of legal charities has only been worsened by recent cuts to legal aid in the UK. Whilst advice centres have welcomed the recent cash influx of £5.4m by the Ministry of Justice, the magnitude of the issue simply requires more. Julie Bishop (Director of the Law Centres Network) spoke of the recent position of law centres as “[living] on a knife edge” and “it takes very little to knock them over”. This is in reference to the reduction of funding in the sector; 50% of all not-for-profit legal services in England and Wales have closed over the past 6 years, placing additional pressure on those that remain viable. Together with the lessening of legal aid eligibility and court closures, the support of the London Legal Support Trust is more important than ever.
Coronavirus has also drawn further attention to the instability of the not-for-profit sector as a whole, which without community support will cease to exist in its current form. Research suggests that the charities sector could lose up to £4m in funding and has severely impacted its ability to deliver services, fundraise and plan ahead. COVID-19 has also prevented the traditional face-to-face style that charities often rely on to spread their message. Instead, like the corporate sector, expect to see an increased use of social media and virtual experiences to lessen the impact of the virus.
If you’re interested in supporting greater access to justice and the London Legal Support Trust, here are two ways you can get involved:
- Check out our LittleLaw team “10,000 Steps For Justice” fundraising page and donate at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LittleLaw20
- Check out the marshalling opportunity for the London Legal Walk at the postponed date in October (more information can be found here: https://www.londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk/our-events/london-legal-walk-2020/walk-marshals-needed/)
For more information on the event itself visit: https://www.londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk/our-events/london-legal-walk-2020/10,000-steps-for-justice/
Let’s take a step (or 10,000) towards greater access to justice!
Report written by Katrina Hughes
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