Grants are available for specialist social welfare legal advice organisations to cope with the immediate impact of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and lay the foundations for longer-term renewal.

Funding body: National Lottery Community Fund
Maximum value: Discretionary
Application deadline: None specified

The Community Justice Fund was launched as a joint initiative between Advice UK, Law Centres Network and Citizens Advice and a group of independent funders (the AB Charitable Trust, Access to Justice Foundation, Indigo Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Legal Education Foundation and Therium Access). It is hosted by The Access to Justice Foundation. The Fund is made up of contributions from a range of sources, including the Government and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Objectives of Fund
The funding is intended for specialist social welfare legal advice agencies, supporting the key role they play in providing essential support to people and communities during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Value Notes
The size of grant awarded will depend on different factors, including the size of the organisation and the cost and scale of the support needed.

The Fund anticipates to be making grants in the range of £25,000 to £75,000 but this range is indicative and organisations can apply for less than £25,000 if that is what is needed. The Fund may also be able to make grants larger than £75,000 in certain circumstances.

Who Can Apply
To be eligible for funding, organisations must be:

  • Working in the UK.
  • Registered with the relevant Charity Commission.
  • Able to demonstrate a track record of delivering legal advice in one or more of the following areas of law:
    • Asylum.
    • Community care.
    • Debt.
    • Disability.
    • Discrimination.
    • Education.
    • Employment.
    • Housing.
    • Immigration,
    • Mental health.
    • Public and administrative law.
    • Welfare benefits.
  • Able to demonstrate a track record in delivering advice at specialist level including carrying out end-to-end casework for clients, carrying out representation in a court or tribunal and/or holding legal aid contract.

United Kingdom

The following are not eligible for funding:

  • Generalist advice agencies.
  • Private sector legal aid practices.
  • Individuals.
  • Exempt charities (eg, universities, churches).

Eligible Expenditure
The funding is for specialist social welfare legal advice organisations to help them be effective and sustainable in the face of responding to COVID-19.

There will be two waves of funding. During the first (current) wave, flexible grants will be awarded to eligible organisations that they can use to respond to the challenges they face in ways that they feel best meets their needs. This could include:

  • “Keeping the doors open”.
  • Making the necessary shifts to home working.
  • Maintaining services.
  • Adapting services to reach people in new ways and at greater scale
  • Supporting the wellbeing of staff
  • A combination of the above and other responses.

Grants can be used for a range of costs including:

  • One-off purchases.
  • Salaries.
  • Sessional worker’s fees.
  • Costs of local or temporary staff.
  • Promotion of partnership approaches.
  • General contribution of funding to help cashflow.

Applications will be assessed competitively and prioritised based on the extent to which the applicant:

  • Will put a flexible grant to good use in addressing the aims of the Fund.
  • Plays a leadership or coordinating role in a particular area of law, or in supporting a beneficiary group with particular needs, such as victims of trafficking or disabled people.
  • Plays a leadership or coordinating role in a particular area of the UK, especially where specialist advice services are already scarce.
  • Makes strategic use of law so as to maximise the impact of day-to-day casework.
  • Works collaboratively as part of a wider network of organisations helping to meet legal needs.
  • Uses its influence in local and national policy circles.
  • Will capture and share insights and lessons that will help inform future work.

Grants must be used by 31 March 2021.

The second wave will, subject to fundraising, open for applications in Autumn 2020 and provide flexible grants in support of the Fund’s aims, responding to ongoing needs and building on the promising work arising out of the first wave.

How To Apply
Wave one is open for application on a rolling weekly basis. There is no fixed deadline.

Organisations should apply early in the week if they want their application to be considered in the following week. Decisions will be received within ten days of submitting an application.

Guidelines and FAQs, as well as the online application form are available on the Community Justice Fund’s website.

Useful Links
The Community Justice Fund

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