LEGAL professionals across the United Kingdom are set to take part in a series of fundraising walks this summer and autumn to raise much-needed money and awareness for specialist free legal advice services that are at breaking point due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Taking place on various dates between 21 June – 21 October 2021, the summer and autumn Legal Walks are a series of annual fundraising events organised by the Access to Justice Foundation (in partnership with the regional Legal Support Trusts and committees) and the London Legal Support Trust, which manages all walks in the South East of England and the London Legal Walk.
The annual events see participants from local law firms, chambers and in-house legal teams come together with local judges and members of the community to walk 5-10K to raise thousands of pounds for front-line legal advice services in their local region. In 2019 the Legal Walks raised over £1M for advice services, but in 2020 the majority of walks had to be postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The 2021 summer Legal Walks will return to the usual in-person format – government guidelines permitting – with walks taking place in cities across England, including Northampton, Oxford, Sheffield, Carlisle, Doncaster, Reading, Brighton and more. Legal Walks in Scotland, Wales and other major cities across England, including the London, Manchester and Birmingham Legal Walks, will take place in the autumn.
The Legal Walks return at a critical time for the UK’s specialist legal advice sector, which has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. Many advice services have reported an unprecedented surge in demand from clients in desperate need of advice in areas such as debt, welfare, immigration, family, housing and employment law. Other services are facing a lack of resource and staff to deal with the level of enquiries and severe financial problems that could lead to their permanent closure.
Organisers are encouraging as many teams as possible to take part in the Legal Walks this year to help raise much-needed funds and awareness for the free legal advice sector. These services provide essential help to vulnerable people in the community who often have no other means of getting legal advice, representation, or support.
Laura Cassidy, Fundraising and Development Manager at the Access to Justice Foundation, said:
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for the free legal advice sector was already lacking. COVID-19 has been devastating for the sector, placing an almost impossible strain on advice services that are at breaking point. Without these services, thousands of people across the UK will be unable to obtain justice.
“The legal community knows more than most about the pressure put on the sector, and we know they are passionate about advocating for better services to reach those most in need. The Legal Walks are a great opportunity to raise money and awareness for these services, and we look forward to walking side by side with the legal community once again.”
Bob Nightingale MBE, Head of Fundraising at the London Legal Support Trust, said:
“Because of its size, the London Legal Walk has had to be delayed until 18 October. However, we anticipate that all other walks will be able to go ahead (short of a full lockdown), and we will comply with any COVID-19 restrictions.”
All legal walks are being planned in accordance with the latest government guidelines, and it is hoped that the legal sector will be walking together in person from 21 June. The Access to Justice Foundation and the London Legal Support Trust will provide regular updates on their websites in the lead up to each walk and will provide as much notice as possible should any walks be turned virtual.
For information, or to register for the Legal Walks taking place in the North East, North West, Yorkshire, the East of England, the Midlands, the South West, Wales or Scotland, please visit: atjf.org.uk/legal-walks, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.