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The closure of Lambeth County Court has become a dangerous farce

Credit to secretlondon123. Used under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Credit to secretlondon123.

Lambeth County Court,  one of the busiest housing court in the country, was due to close last week as part of the Ministry of Justice’s court closure programme. Late last Friday, our solicitors were informed that the Court was staying open for at least another month; the court staff had only found out that morning. The chaos around the Court is putting families at risk of homelessness and denying them access to justice.

When the plan to close Lambeth County Court was first announced, Cambridge House along with Southwark and Lambeth Law Centres advocated against the decision to close the court, highlighting the substantial barriers to justice that closing the court would create for poorer clients across South London. Under the proposed plans, court users will be expected to travel much further to attend and at considerable cost; for example, a person in South Norwood may have to travel to Old Street, a £10 return. A single person’s basic Universal Credit allowance is £79 per week; attending a hearing then could consume more than 10% of their weekly budget. The decision appears to be administratively driven and with little thought given to users of the court, especially those vulnerable clients most in need of accessible justice.

With this latest twist, the closure of the court has descended from a short sighted cost-cutting exercise to dangerous farce. We have seen many different letters relating to court hearings, all citing different venues. These cases are not trivial – vulnerable people with low incomes attending court to try and keep a roof over the heads, sometimes against unscrupulous or negligent landlords. Thanks to this confusion, there can be no doubt that there will be more evictions and more people will become homeless. People will attend the wrong court, arrive late or not attend at all, thanks to the cost, because they can’t get time off work, or simply because they’ve given up hope. Some will make deals with their landlords to avoid court, which will doubtless to lead to eviction/homelessness in the end.

It is vital that people seek legal advice as soon as they receive any court notification, as Legal Aid is still available for housing possession cases, and that they are able to attend court. We reiterate our response to the closure plans and urge the Ministry of Justice to reconsider the decision to close Lambeth County Court. 

Local Couple Support Cambridge House!

We’re saying a huge thank you (and congratulations) to Kathryn and Iain, two local residents who are getting married this month and supporting Cambridge House!

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Kathryn and Iain, star Camberwell residents.

They have shown amazing generosity and inspiring commitment to our local community by inviting their wedding guests to donate to our work tackling poverty and social exclusion in Southwark. Showing amazing community spirit, Kathryn and Iain are not only supporting us but are holding the ceremony locally with locally sourced catering and flowers! What stars!

We feel so lucky to have their support, and wish them all the very best for the coming wedding and for their future together. If you’d like to make a donation in support of Kathryn and Ian, you can do it safely and quickly online here:

Cambridge House Law Centre’s successful LGO complaint a victory for both client and community!

We are very proud of our Law Centre and in particular solicitor Sharon Gunard who have had a successful Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) complaint outcome!
Miss B is vulnerable and suffers with extreme anxiety and depression. As a result she was treated by the mental health team at the South London & Maudsley Home Treatment Team. Unemployed and with no means of support she applied online for Housing Benefits. However, she was not told that in order to receive financial support she needed to make a claim under the new Universal Credit scheme. As a result,  Miss B was left with significant rent arrears for which the Council tried to evict her. 
Our Law Centre supported Miss B to make a complaint to The Local Government Ombudsman. The complaint was a success and the LGO concluded that the Council must do more in future to ensure vulnerable claimants fully understand the changes in relation to Universal Credit. This is particularly important because the maximum period of backdating for Universal Credit is one month which leaves people at risk of being left without income despite being entitled. In addition, they agreed the Council took too long (3 months) to inform the client of the mistake and recommended they ensure they write to those claimants (affected by such significant benefit changes) more quickly to inform them of the correct benefits to claim.
Too often, the complexity of the Universal Credit scheme and the staggering waiting times puts people at risk of financial debt, rent arrears and even homelessness. This good LGO complaint outcome is wonderful news, not only for Miss B but it will also have a positive impact for others in the community who might find themselves in a similar position. 

Cambridge House adds voice to calls for government to crack down on rogue landlords

Cambridge House supports Sir Robin Wales’ plea to government to support Newham Council’s bid to continue their scheme which is cracking down on rogue landlords.

Our Safer Renting project sees the human toll of landlord offending through our work on the frontline with London councils’ residential licensing schemes. Families with children are being locked out of their homes and their belongings destroyed, they share toilets, shower and kitchen with complete strangers, and face daily danger from fire, electrocution, cold, damp, and infection from pest infestation.

All of this is heartbreaking to witness: consider also that this abuse doesn’t come cheap. Even rents on such death-trap properties are increasingly beyond the reach of people on average incomes, as more than two-thirds of the Capital is now unaffordable to people on less than £30,000 a year.

This is because, ultimately, landlord offending is about money; people are exploiting the lack of enforcement and high housing demand to extract huge sums in return for dangerous housing that is unfit for human habitation. Our work enables tenants to use the law to protect themselves against illegal eviction and against landlords who don’t repair their properties. But even with our support tenants often suffer because they have no rights against landlords who construct and let out substandard homes like the “beds in sheds” so common in boroughs such as Newham. 

All this could be changed if MPs support Karen Buck MP’s Private Members’ Bill ‘Homes (Fitness for Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards)’ now going back before Parliament. The Bill was shamefully voted down last year because many landlord MPs voting against measures ensuring that privately rented homes are fit for human habitation.

 Karen Buck’s Bill is desperately needed to strengthen tenants’ rights. Supported by increase resources for local authority enforcement, the bill could enable the worst abuse to be stamped out through licensing schemes and services such as Safer Renting that provide tenancy rights advocacy to protect victims and deter landlord offending.

We’re hiring! Leadership, Advocacy and Development roles available

We’re recruiting for three talented and committed people to join our team tackling poverty and social exclusion!

We have two positions available in our Leadership and Advocacy Teams, and a paid internship position available in our Development Team. Whether you’re just starting out in your third sector career or are an experienced and creative leader looking for a new challenge, these roles are a fantastic opportunity to join a frontline social action centre working innovatively to tackle the social and economic challenges of today.

We’re looking for flexible and motivated people who are committed to our mission and values and who want to change society for the better:

  • Director of Quality and Service Development
  • Advocacy Manager
  • Fundraising and Development Intern (Paid)

For information on how to apply, click here

As an organisation we are particularly keen to ensure that our staff reflect the diverse nature of the community in which we work. We value diversity and warmly welcome applications from disabled people, the LGBTQ communities and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

19Plus is having an Art Exhibition and Graduation Ceremony


Our 19Plus group, an arts collective of practicing artists and learning diverse adults, have been hard at work this year creating incredible work! To celebrate and showcase their talent they are having an end-of-term graduation and exhibition. The art will be on display at The Ivy House from the 4th to the 14th July where people can bid ‘silently’. This will then culminate with the Graduation event on 10th July where the auction results will be announced and certificates will be presented to each of the participants to mark their achievements throughout the year. The grand opening and graduation ceremony will be on Monday 10th July, from 5 – 7pm at The Ivy House, 40 Stuart Road, SE15 3BE. Hope to see you all there!

An artistic view of the gentrification of Southwark

An artist’s perspective of the rapidly changing landscape of  Southwark.

A short video to accompany, Changing Skyline, the first Negative Response new track for over 30 years. (from

If you’d like to learn more about all the work we do around housing please have a look at our blog the Ch@t


For the seventh year, Cambridge House Law Centre will be taking part in The London Legal Aid Walk

11/05/2017 For the seventh year, Cambridge House Law Centre will be taking part in The London Legal Aid Walk. The team will be striding out after a hard day’s work on the evening of Monday 22 May 2017 to raise enough money to keep the Law Centre’s Hardship Fund going for another year.

Every penny we raise is used to help our clients whilst we run their case.   Many of our clients suffer from financial hardship for various reasons, usually suspended welfare benefits or being on very low pay. Over the past years, we have seen a steady climb in the number of clients for whom our limited financial assistance has proved to be invaluable. Every person we have assisted from the Hardship Fund is enormously grateful and often reduced to tears of relief because they have not known where to turn for help.

We would never be able to provide this crucial help without donations from you. Any amount you are able to give, no matter how small, makes a real difference and every penny we raise goes into the Hardship Fund.

Donations can be made on our Just Giving page (link below) or by cash, cheque or any other means. Please ask your family and friends to spread the word and display the attached poster in their workplaces

Or please take a Sponsorship Form with you to work, pubs, clubs, parties, even on the bus/tube for cash donations. Legal aid walk Sponsorship Form

All the staff at Cambridge House Law Centre would like to thank you for your efforts in raising money towards our Hardship Fund.



Cambridge House Veteran Wins Prestigious Southwark Civic Award


Our longest-serving staff member, Beryl Peckham, has been honoured at the Southwark Civic Awards 2017!

We’re proud to announce that Law Centre Administrator and Cambridge House stalwart Beryl Peckham will be honoured at the Southwark Civic Awards 2017 with the Liberty of the Old Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell. The award recognises Beryl’s exceptional contribution to Southwark over her 29 years at Cambridge House Law Centre where she has worked tirelessly to support the provision of free, expert legal advice and representation.

Over the years Beryl has played a galvanising role in the development of the Law Centre, especially in the face of increased demand and shrinking supply of advisors. Despite these challenges, we have become one of the most successful Law Centres in the country, thanks in no small part to Beryl’s service.

Beryl has been steadfast in her devotion to Cambridge House, her local community and to the wider legal and advice giving sector. She has taken the lead in the development of reception services for the whole organisation and the Law Centre. Her professionalism is exemplary. She is the caring and empathetic face of the organisation and visitors who often arrive with difficult and complex problems, ensuring they receive a warm and sympathetic welcome. Clients are reassured by her down-to-earth manner, often commenting on how good it is to be greeted by someone who is clearly a local and reflects the wider community. She is selfless in giving her time to other Law Centres and, despite her own workload, has provided financial and administrative advice to other Law Centres.

Beryl’s lifetime of devotion and service to her borough and its citizens, to Cambridge House, to the Law Centre and to the wider advice giving sector is undoubtedly worthy of reward and recognition, and we are thrilled that she has been recognised for her outstanding contribution.