Individual Rights Day

August 29th is Individual Rights Day, which is the birth date of John Locke, a philosopher who first prominently argued for the rights of each single human being. These individual rights include:

  • the right to an adequate standard of living
  • the right to the highest possible standard of physical and mental health
  • the right to education
  • the right to work and to decent work conditions
  • the right to social security.

Whilst these rights are intrinsic within a civilised society, ensuring that these rights are upheld can sometimes be difficult without legal support. The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who need and no longer have access to legal advice are ordinary people dealing with everyday issues that could affect any of us.

These include parents denied access to their children because they don’t know the court process, vulnerable people facing eviction, victims of domestic abuse too afraid to leave.

Budget cuts to the pro bono advice sector and the significant reduction of legal aid has meant that access to justice can be difficult for many people. Organisations like LawWorks and Advocate support and develop pro bono activity across England and Wales attempting to ensure that the pro bono efforts are targeted where they can be most effective and have the greatest impact. A significant number of their registered clinics are run by Universities.

Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (“SULAC”) was launched in 2018.  Since inception we have helped in excess of 400 clients. The breakdown of the categories of work can be seen in the table at Appendix 1. Most of the issues related to family law and housing. In the vast majority of cases, legal aid is not available meaning that if the complainants cannot afford to pay for a solicitor, they may struggle to enforce their rights.

SULAC attempts to empower these people by providing guidance, support and assistance to enable them to navigate the justice system on their own. The service is run by final year law students, supervised by qualified solicitors. Whist we do not run cases, we provide a detailed letter of advice, court forms and, if possible, signpost and refer to other organisations who may be able to help.

SULAC’s manager, Tracey Horton, recognised that lack of access to justice affects a significant number of people within Staffordshire, not just the most vulnerable and unemployed. In the circumstances, in addition to offering the service to local community hubs, we also offered a service to many public sector organisations including, HMP Stafford, two local hospitals, a military base and local MP’s. The aim was to connect to as much of the local community as possible. In addition to this we also offered a service to YMCA and during the next academic year we will be extending this service to Women’s Aid.

In light of Covid19, the service will be operated remotely, rather than face to face during the next academic year. It is hoped that clients will be interviewed via Microsoft Teams or, if the technology is not available, by phone.

The service will resume in October 2020. Should you require an appointment please call 01782 294458 or email


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