Staff, volunteers, partners and clients of the Tackling Discrimination in the East (TDE) legal service were celebrating today (July 12th) at the news that their application to the Big Lottery Fund for £350,000 to fund them for another three years had been successful.
TDE is a Suffolk-wide project run by the Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) which provides free high-quality legal advice, including support from volunteer lawyers, and wider support to those working or living in the county who are experiencing unlawful discrimination and unable to fund the required legal action themselves. Since 2013, staff and volunteers have been involved in at least 3000 meetings with clients across its advice clinics held in Bury St. Edmunds, Haverhill, Ipswich and Lowestoft.
The service has helped 680 individuals helping them win about £250,000 in compensation, and get changes to working practices and services. TDE lawyers even got six clients reinstated after being unfairly dismissed! But when the original funding from the Big Lottery Fund came to an end in March there was a fear that the service would be lost for ever.
TDE was thrown a lifeline in the spring as it was allowed to raise donations through a crowdfunding website called Crowd Justice that supports legal cases. Crowdfunding is where individuals come together to securely donate amounts of money online to support a particular projects. 35 individuals donated £3845 between them – enough to help keep TDE going for the last three months. “But now we can start delivering our ambitious plans for the future because of this brilliant news about the new grant” explained Audrey Ludwig, ISCRE’s Legal Director. “We want Suffolk to be a place where justice is there for all and where anyone facing unlawful discrimination is able to access expert advice and support to evaluate the options open to them, regardless of their financial circumstances”. Over the next three years, TDE aims to:
- Help at least a further 700 clients facing discrimination
- Expand its network of clinics into more isolated rural communities (adding to the current outreach clinics in Haverhill, Lowestoft and Norwich, to include one in Thetford)
- Increase its ability to deal with pregnancy discrimination cases by some awareness raising
- Extend its remit to cover a few cases of low paid worker exploitation
- Deliver five specialist workshops for people with disabilities on accessing services.
- Rollout a workshop programme for secondary schools called “3Hs project” standing for hate crime, harassment and human rights
“Our successful application was very much a team effort and I’d like to thank in particular our staff and volunteers, the Trustees of ISCRE, the Big Lottery Fund staff, Ingrid Gardiner and Mark Ereira-Guyer at Big Society Consulting, Steve Allman Consultancy, Crowd Justice, our previous clients and the very, very many people who wrote to us in support of what TDE is all about” added Audrey. “Because of their support and determination, Suffolk’s poorest and most vulnerable to unlawful discrimination will have access to free legal advice”.