Former High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, Countess Bathurst, has presented an award to the Gloucester Salvation Army Corps free law clinic in recognition of its work with the poor and vulnerable.
Government cuts to Legal Aid mean it is increasingly difficult for people in trouble to get free professional help, while funding challenges for local government mean there is also less money for Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.
The Law Clinic, run by Graham Wallis of Wallis Solicitors at the Salvation Army citadel on Eastgate Street, is trying to meet the needs of the people in the city by providing free legal advice for those with housing, employment and family problems.
"We provide a free point of contact for legal advice, we deal with criminal law, family law, employment and housing," said Mr Wallis.
"If we cannot deal with the legal problem directly we can point the client into the right direction and assist them with a Legal Aid application if necessary.’
"For many this is their first and only point of contact due to many cutbacks."
The clinic operates every week and is staffed by a team of volunteers.
The concept of free legal help isn’t a new idea. In the 1890s the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, produced a book discussing how everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, should be entitled to legal help.
The High Sheriff is the Queen’s representative for legal matters within the county. Lady Bathurst presented the award in recognition of the work undertaken by the Salvation Army to help people in need.