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Welfare reform coming to a head, hears Law Centre AGM

AGM speakers

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Law Centre (NI) AGM and seminar on welfare reform

Welfare reform – looking forward – before and after the Bill

Law Centre (NI) AGM and seminar 2013

With members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Social Development Committee

Mickey Brady MLA, Paula Bradley MLA, Michael Copeland MLA and Stewart Dickson MLA

When: Wednesday 11 December 2013, 10am to 1.15pm, followed by lunch
Where: Groundwork 63-75 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast BT15 2GB

RSVP: by Friday 6 December to Ann Cartwright: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , phone 028 9024 4401

This venue has disabled access.  Vegetarian food will be provided. Please let us know if you have any dietary or other needs.

 You can download a PDF of the invitation to our 2013 AGM here.

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Trafficked young people get specialist help

Fidelma O'Hagan, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney Deirdre Coyle, at the launch of Law Centre (NI)'s new legal and policy support service for young people who have been trafficked

Fidelma O’Hagan, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney and Deirdre Coyle at Law Centre (NI) launch of the new anti-trafficking young people project.

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Pro bono work: international perspectives and local solutions

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Training places available

Some places remain on two upcoming Law Centre training courses:

Understanding Universal Credit - Belfast  28 November 2013

Personal Independence Payments - Derry 05 December 2013

Please visit the above links for more details or contact Elaine McCorriston:

02871 262343 email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Launch of Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Young People Project

Law Centre (NI) would like to invite you to the launch of the Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Young People Project.

Where: Law Centre (NI), 124 Donegall Street, Belfast

When: Friday 6 December, 11am

Speakers:

Patricia Lewsley-Mooney - Commissioner for Children and Young People

Fidelma O'Hagan - Anti Trafficking Legal and Policy Adviser

Followed by a Q&A session.

This project is funded by Comic Relief

RSVP no later than Frdiay 29 November to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Transforming your care seminars UPDATE

The Rights in Community Care seminar series offers an opportunity to explore critical issues affecting the provision of social care in Northern Ireland against the backdrop of Transforming Your Care. The seminars feature speakers from both the statutory and non-statutory sectors, followed by discussion time.

Unfortunately the seminar due to take place on 22 November (Personalisation, Rights and Excellence in Care) has had to be postponed until February, due to availability of speakers.

The next seminar will now be Involving the Experts: Making the Most of Service User and Carer Participation. It will take place on Friday 6 December, from10.30am-12.30pm at Groundwork NI, Duncairn Gardens, Belfast.

The seminar will focus on user and carer involvement in service planning, review and delivery. Speakers are:

  • Jo Moriarty from King's College London, who has researched current best practice in engaging users and carers and is the author of Social Care Institute for Excellence practice guide on participation;
  • Maeve Hully, Chief Executive of the Patient Client Council who will talk about the role of the Patient Client Council in supporting and promoting public and personal involvement, and what opportunities TYC offers to improve engagement in health and social care;
  • a carer (TBC) who is involved in planning at NI-wide strategic level through roles in a number of regional strategic implementation groups;
  • Laura Collins, who is engaging in local commissioning by taking up a carer place on one of the new ICPs.

For more information, or to book a free place, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Another seminar, Transitions in care: lessons to be learned, will be held on 17 January 2014 at the Law Centre.

The Rights in Community Care Group (RICC) is an umbrella group of organisations including Law Centre (NI), Carers Northern Ireland, Age NI, UNISON, Disability Action and Alzheimer's Society.

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Frontline 89 online

Frontline 89 cover image

Frontline autumn 2013 is out. 

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Pro Bono in Practice: International Perspectives

Sinead Mulhearn, head of LSP

A Legal Support Project conference, Belfast, 8 November.  Free. Book by 30 October.

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New vacancy - Immigration Legal Adviser (Part time)

The Law Centre is seeking candidates who are a solicitor or a barrister, with at least one year’s experience of providing legal advice, casework and/or representation in immigration law.

For more details and an application form, please visit the Work With Us page.

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Welfare reform conference: live stream

Watch it on: bit.ly/19Y0dvv 

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Martyn Day shines light on using law for social change

Martyn Day

Martyn Day, head of international claims at Leigh Day and Co, spoke at the Law Centre's inaugural social justice lecture.

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Last training places: enrol now

Trainer and participants at welfare rights adviser programme session 2013Want to learn more about welfare rights advice, Universal Credit, PIP, tribunal representation, advocacy skills? Some training places still available. Book now.

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CAB 'imposter' warning

Citizens Advice are concerned that imposters claiming to be from a Citizens Advice Bureau are cold calling people in Northern Ireland offering help with debt problems.

CAB have stressed that no genuine CAB adviser, or anyone connected with CAB, would ever phone or text someone out of the blue offering a service.

 If someone is cold called or gets a text from someone offering loans, help with debt problems, or personal injury claims, it is almost certainly a scam.

CAB's advice is:

  • Don’t give or confirm any personal information
  • Report the call immediately to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
  • Contact your local bureau for free, confidential, independent and expert advice to help resolve your problems

There are ways of reducing nuisance calls, e-mails and texts if you are becoming frustrated with them:

  • Ask the company to take you off mailing list
  • Unsubscribe to the e-mail if you have the option
  • Don’t reply to text messages as this lets them know that the number is in use, forward any spam text messages to your service provider (EE & O2 - 7726, Vodafone - 87726, 3 -37726) Make sure to include the number.
  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service (It is illegal for companies to make unsolicited calls to you), similarly there is the E-Mail Preference Service.
  • If after doing all this you continue to receive unsolicited marketing material, you can make a formal complaint to the company, if they ignore it, you can then make a formal complaint to the Information Commission.

For more information contact Rachael Cray at CAB: e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or telephone 028090 267172 / 07702161876

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Voter registration drive for migrants in Northern Ireland

To promote integration and participation, Peace for Africa and Belfast Friendship Club are actively encouraging eligible migrants in Northern Ireland to register for voting. The NI Strategic Migration Partnership is also looking at ways to encourage migrant registration as part of European Local Democracy Week which is held in October.

The Law Centre has clarified the legal position with the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland.

All European nationals and Commonwealth nationals who have resided in Northern Ireland for three months prior to 15 October (ie who have been living here since 15 July) are eligible to vote. This applies regardless of a person's immigration status and therefore asylum seekers are eligible.

Citizens of Commonwealth countries that have been suspended from the Commonwealth (such as Zimbabwe) retain their voting rights.

A list of eligible countries is available here: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/who_can_register_to_vote.aspx

The deadline for the current round of registration is 27 September 2013.
The registration form is available to download here:
http://www.eoni.org.uk/getmedia/60158470-428a-4377-8e33-c1440dec1e44/Final-Canvass-form-1-%2822-August%29

Those who register to vote are also entitled to apply for an electoral identity card. People can go to the Electoral Office with their original ID document and have their photograph taken free of charge (Electoral Office for NI, 2nd Floor, St Anne's House, 15 Church Street, Belfast BT1 1ER). See here for the list of ID:
http://www.eoni.org.uk/Electoral-Identity-Card/How-to-apply

The registration form is also available in Irish, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak and Ulster Scots: http://www.eoni.org.uk/Register-To-Vote/Forms-in-other-Languages

Note: UK and Irish nationals and other Commonwealth citizens can vote in all elections.  EU nationals who are not also citizens of Commonwealth countries can vote in Northern Ireland Assembly, European and local council elections but not in UK Parliament elections.

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New vacancies at Law Centre (NI)

Assistant Director (Community Care and Mental Health Policy)

Temporary post for two years based in Belfast

Law Centre (NI) is seeking to recruit a part-time Assistant Director for a fixed term to take forward our community care and mental health policy work and to contribute to the senior management team. Secondment applications will be considered.
A minimum of two years’ experience of management, including staff and budgets, is required. The ideal candidate will also have at least two years’ experience of working on social policy issues, as well as lobbying/campaign experience. Experience of producing policy papers is essential as are excellent communication and presentation skills. The ability to lead and to motivate others to achieve positive outcomes is also required. Knowledge of community care and/or mental health law and policy would be an advantage.

Policy Officer

Temporary post for one year based in Belfast

The Law Centre is recruiting a policy officer to work on community care and mental health policy. The ideal candidate will have at least two years’ experience of social policy work, including campaigning or lobbying work as well as experience of writing policy materials. Knowledge of either community care or mental health law and policy is also required. Excellent communication and presentation skills are required, as is an ability to work on own initiative and to prioritise work to meet deadlines. Secondment applications will be considered.

For full details on both these posts and information on how to apply see our Work With Us Page.

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Belfast Citywide Tribunal Service

Law Centre (NI) welcomes the new Belfast Citywide Tribunal Service.

The service, managed and delivered by the Belfast Advice Group, a new consortium of advice providers from across Belfast, is funded for two years by Belfast City Council.

Belfast Citywide Tribunal Service represents people who wish to appeal Social Security Agency (SSA) decisions on benefits, including Employment Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independent Payment and Universal Credit. It provides assistance throughout the process and represents in Appeal and Tribunal settings.

Open from 1 July 2013, the service will be delivered by five full-time tribunal representatives and two tribunal assistants from: North Belfast CAB; Ardoyne Association; Ligoniel Improvement Association; The Vine Centre; Ballysillan Community Forum; Tar Isteach; Ballynafeigh Community Development Association; South City Resource Centre; Suffold and Andersonstown Bureau; and Windsor Women’s Centre.

For more information, visit: www.belfastcity.gov.uk/community/advice/tribunalservice.aspx

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Social Justice Lecture

Seminar flyer

Law Centre (NI) invites you to a Social Justice Lecture: Law as a Tool for Social Change, 26 September, 4.30 to 6pm, Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast. Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan will introduce a keynote lecture by Martyn Day.

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Welfare reform conference

Northern Ireland Advice Services Consortium and NICVA will hold a conference on welfare reform and the impact on the local economy on Thurs 3 October, 9.30am to 2.30pm, at NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast.

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Sudanese family protected from risk of deportation

Law Centre welcomes judgement preventing return of Sudanese family from Belfast to Dublin

The Law Centre has welcomed the High Court ruling of 14 August 2013 that a Sudanese family should not be returned from Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic and face the possibility of deportation back to Sudan.

This lead case, taken by the Law Centre, was the first of 38 cases before the High Court in Belfast, where Sudanese individuals and families who moved from the Republic to Northern Ireland are challenging a decision of Home Office to return them to Ireland under the Dublin II Convention where they may face deportation. The Convention allows countries to remove applicants to the country where the original asylum claim was made.

The UK’s long-standing position is that it is not safe to return non-Arab Darfuris to Sudan. This is based on independent in-country reports and as a result asylum is normally granted to applicants.  The position in the Republic of Ireland is different and non-Arab Darfuris are not automatically granted asylum and can therefore be deported.

There were several legal arguments including:

  • that the removal of the applicants from Belfast to Dublin would lead to a real risk of return to Sudan which is not a safe country for the family;
  • that the Republic of Ireland does not meet the minimum standards laid down in the Council Directive 2003/9/EC for the reception of the asylum seekers from which, in any event, the Republic has opted out from;
  • that the Home Office failed in its duty to ‘have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the UK.

The judgement upheld the argument that the best interests of the children were served by remaining in Northern Ireland and the decision to remove the family to the Republic of Ireland was quashed.

The judge, Stephen J, also considered the issue of the treatment of asylum seekers in the Republic of Ireland. He held that the legal test against removal on the grounds of conditions in the Republic of Ireland was whether there was a systemic failure in the asylum and reception procedures. He set out a number of independent reports detailing deficiencies in the Republic's treatment of asylum seekers and the low rate of success with appeals but did not hold that these amounted to systemic deficiencies.

The judgement requires careful reading by both the Irish and UK governments.  The Irish government needs to take on board the international evidence that it is not safe to return non-Arab Darfuris to Sudan.  Until it does so, the UK government should not return these individuals and their family members back to the Republic of Ireland.

‘This judgement serves to highlight what the Irish Ombudsman, Irish Refugee Council, UN High Commission for Refugees and many others have been saying about the treatment of asylum seekers in the Republic’, said Law Centre (NI) director Les Allamby. 'The sooner the Irish government signs up to and meets the European Council directive on minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers the better', he added.

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