Award-winning legal agencies in the United Kingdom are working in collaboration with KIND to set up a ground-breaking pro bono project, which will help vulnerable children in the UK secure citizenship rights.
Kids In Need of Defence (KIND) UK will be modeled on KIND in the United States, which was co-founded by UN refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie, and Microsoft in 2008.
KIND US has trained more than 13,000 attorneys to build a national network of lawyers able to represent children in immigration cases and is now supporting development of the UK model.
KIND UK, has already been discussed by Angelina Jolie. Speaking on BBC World on the Move Day on May 16, in response to a question about support for children, she said that KIND is one of the organizations that offer this support in the US, and she was pleased that KIND was now going to extend its work to the UK.
Together with Central England Law Centre (CELC), other partners in the UK model are: the Migrant & Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) at Islington Law Centre; Coram Children’s Legal Centre, and Legal Services Agency Glasgow. All the agencies involved are recognized as leaders in the field of children’s rights law.
CELC Chief Executive Officer Sue Bent says:
“Legal aid cuts in this country have left thousands of undocumented children unable to access legal advice. Many of these uniquely vulnerable children are either born in the UK or have spent most of their formative years here and could become British citizens, if only they could find a lawyer to help them navigate complex laws and through the difficult process of applying to the Home Office. Without this support, they face a bleak future, blocked from full access to education or employment, and left at greater risk of abuse, destitution and exploitation.”
KIND UK is still in its earliest stages, but aims to train commercial lawyers to step in and support children with immigration issues. It is working with a growing number of commercial firms who are interested in increasing their level of pro bono work.
KIND President Wendy Young says,
“KIND is extremely pleased is to be partnering with CELC and our other UK partners to help protect children in the UK from harm and provide a future free from fear. We also look forward to working with law firms and corporations in the UK to help expand their pro bono work to provide children with the access to legal services that they so desperately need.”
The project is initially being funded over a three-year period by: Microsoft Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and Unbound Philanthropy.
More information on the agencies involved:
Central England Law Centre, with offices in Coventry and Birmingham, was founded in 1976. It won the Legal Aid Firm/Not for profit Agency award at the 2015 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards.
The Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) is a national legal and policy project based at Islington Law Centre (founded in 1974). MiCLU’s Director won the Young Lawyer award at the 2011 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards in recognition of her pioneering work with migrant and refugee children in the UK; she is also Clore Social Leadership Fellow 2014
Part of the Coram group of charities, Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) works in the UK and around the world to protect and promote the rights of children. CCLC’s Legal Practice Unit (LPU) specialises in child and family law; education law; community care law; and immigration and asylum law. Its Director of Legal Practice won the inaugural award for ‘Children’s rights’ at the 2015 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards. CCLC started its award-winning ‘Children’s Pro Bono Legal Services’ project in 2015 with partner law firms, Allen & Overy and DLA Piper and funding from Unbound Philanthropy. The project sees volunteer lawyers from the partner firms undertake legal casework for vulnerable children seeking to apply for registration as British Citizens (with support from a supervising solicitor at
Scotland has a different system for legal aid than that in England and Wales. While the same level of legal aid cuts have not yet been experienced in Scotland, the legal aid budget remains tightly controlled in the current economic climate. The legal aid budget in Scotland is lower in 2016/2017 than it has been for over a decade. The Law Society of Scotland predict further cuts which will further impact on access to justice. Furthermore, children that will be assisted by KIND UK require an enhanced legal service not met by this budget. Future cuts must also anticipated. Therefore it is important that this project builds a UK-wide network.
For more information about KIND UK, contact Megan McKenna, KIND, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990.
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