Hammonds launches last-ditch attempt to save law advice centre

Lawyers at Hammonds’ London office have issued a call to arms on behalf of Paddington Law Centre in West London, which faces imminent closure unless donations are forthcoming.

For almost 35 years Paddington Law Centre has provided free, specialist legal advice and representation to Westminster’s poorest citizens in the practice areas of immigration, benefits, housing and employment.

However, several recent financial blows, including the failure to secure funding from the Big Lottery Advice Plus programme, mean that the centre needs an immediate cash injection to survive beyond the summer.

Project administrator Heather Sampson confirmed that approaches to individuals and City law firms had raised some money towards bridging the funding gap and that staff had continued to work throughout June without pay.

However, she said the centre was in need of approximately £50,000 to keep going until September. This would allow it to restructure in accordance with a financial plan drafted by Hammonds lawyers on a pro bono basis and establish new funding streams.

Hammonds London partner Stephen Sampson said: “The firm’s been helping out by giving Paddington Law Centre clients pro bono advice for a couple of evenings each month, as well as helping the centre to redecorate one of its buildings and making a significant financial contribution.

“We’ve also helped the centre to plan for reconstruction and to try and get them through this short-term difficulty. But the centre needs new funds to be financially stable and needs to be financially stable to qualify for new funds.”

Chair of Paddington Law Centre’s board of trustees Peter Purton said the centre had approached Westminster City Council for contributions, but without success.

“Paddington Law Centre has survived for more than 30 years despite Westminster City Council’s lack of support. Now it seems that the council may well have dealt it the final blow,” he said.