Press Release

Big Issue Invest funds legal aid agency in Harlow

Big Issue Invest has funded Harlow Advice Service to further their reach with legal aid

Cost of Living Heroes

Harlow Advice Centre

Harlow Advice Service which provides much-needed specialist advice and help for people with housing, debt and welfare benefits problems has received a welcome boost, thanks to the Legal Aid Agency which has awarded a three year contract.

The contract has enabled Harlow Advice Centre, based upstairs in the library in Broad Walk, to recruit a full-time housing adviser, and increase its opening hours to offer a service between 10 am and 5pm on weekdays.

Advice Centre staff and trustees have had several reasons to celebrate recently. The service has been awarded the advice sector’s national Specialist Quality Mark (SQM), which denotes the ability to deliver advice on complex legal matters. The Advice Centre is the only Harlow advice agency which currently meets the exacting standards required for the SQM.

The service has been given funding from Big Issue Invest to further their reach and has also secured an agreement to supply housing casework for Islington Law Centre.

Natalia Fernandez, Regional Investment Manager at Big Issue Invest supporting Harlow Advice Service’s funding said:

The Harlow Law Centre offers services to the heart of their town and meets the clear needs of the community. Already in a short time, their wonderful team has made a great impact and I anticipate this will continue.

Les Coben, chair of Harlow Advice Centre’s Board of Trustees said:

We are delighted to be able to increase the number of people we can help following the award of the legal aid contract. Thanks to the financial support received from the Legal Aid Agency and Big Issue Invest we can supply much-needed additional services for local residents. These awards demonstrate real confidence in the service’s professionalism.

Mr Coben paid tribute to the hard work of staff and trustees:

Obtaining the SQM is a testament to their hard work. The central library, where we are based, has also been supportive. The temporary agreement with Islington Law Centre is beneficial for both services because it allows Harlow Advice Centre to benefit from the expertise of a much larger service while we help with a short-term need by providing help with housing cases.

Les explained that the work of the Advice Centre helped Harlow residents on low incomes gain hundreds of thousands of pounds in unclaimed entitlements and through expert debt advice, which can include write offs.

Coben also stated:

Many clients would have lost their homes, or still be suffering from extreme financial hardship were it not for the support provided by the Advice Centre’s small but dedicated and specialist-trained team.

The impact Harlow Advice Centre has in the community will only continue to grow, and we are proud to build a relationship with their hard working staff.

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