Seeking Sanctuary: Legal Confidence to Legal Empowerment
Amid reports that two million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion and calls on the UK to relax entry controls for those seeking sanctuary, we are scaling up our Community Legal Confidence initiative to support individuals and communities seeking sanctuary.
People seeking sanctuary face every day legal issues that they cannot resolve as a result of not knowing, understanding or having access to their rights. Our Community Legal Empowerment Programme works with people who are rebuilding their lives and seeking sanctuary from danger or harm.
“When you come to the UK as a migrant and get status it’s a very exciting time but in many ways, you are unprepared for life here. There is a lot to learn…Poverty is not just about economic inequality; knowledge poverty is a social and moral kind of poverty. This programme gave me legal confidence to deal with issues I couldn’t before.” – Workshop Participant, Islington Centre for Migrants and Refugees
Our work is underpinned by the concept of legal empowerment which we define as:
• A key pillar and strategy to the realisation of human rights. It is about putting the law back into people’s hands to ensure it meets their needs and drives positive and long lasting-lasting change
• Ensuring that all people have the agency and capacity to exercise their rights as individuals and communities
• A bottom-up approach to justice where individuals and communities are equipped with knowledge, confidence and skills to realise and shape their rights
• Working towards ensuring that the law is not being confined to books, lawyers and courtrooms; it should be available and accessible to ordinary people
• Legal professionals putting their power towards social justice and working alongside communities as partners rather than owners and protectors of knowledge and expertise.
We provide training, bespoke resources, and coordination, connecting legal volunteers and facilitating their work alongside communities and local rights-based organisations. We adopt a networked approach, combining national reach with a model that enables members to connect with people and organisations in their own communities and supporting the sector through training for frontline staff and wider organisational support.
This year, we will identify grassroots advocates and members from communities with lived experience of seeking sanctuary to train and support them as Community Legal Champions to drive positive and long lasting-lasting change towards a more accessible legal system. We will also use our local academic partnerships and our network’s collective power to support local communities to demand change.
Our ultimate aim is to, by 2025, to have legally empowered people seeking sanctuary in the UK and significantly contributed to them rebuilding their lives and the system that shapes them.
If you’re interested in supporting this work, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org