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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

22/06/2017

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bbgbQV7bQY)

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

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/cambridgehouse2017

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

08/05/2017

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.

 

Gentrification, Displacement and the Impact of Estate Renewal: Research Launch

Cambridge House hosts the launch of an ESRC-funded major research project into the impacts of gentrification, displacement and estate regeneration on London

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Stakeholders and guests discuss the ongoing issues around estates regeneration in London.

On February 17th 2017, Cambridge House hosted stakeholders from a range of sectors and backgrounds to introduce the planned research and to discuss the Greater London Authority’s draft good practice guidance on estates regeneration (which can be found here).

The research will address gaps in knowledge about gentrification, displacement and the impacts of council estate renewal in London. Working closely with tenants groups and other local stakeholders, the research will combine large -scale statistical analysis to measure the scale and patterns of gentrification and associated displacement of working/servicing class populations from London with more intensive, case study methods to document the impacts of urban renewal schemes on individual estates, their residents, the communities across the Southeast to which they are being displaced, and the new ‘mixed’ communities emerging on redeveloped council estates in London.

The project investigators from the University of Leicester and Kings College London presented their plans to the project stakeholders and special guests, who fed back with a broad range of insights and knowledge. The afternoon session consisted of a lively and productive roundtable discussion of the GLA’s draft guidance on estates regeneration. Represented stakeholders and guests included:

  • Just Space
  • London Tenants Federation
  • The GLA
  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Platform 7
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • GLA Green Party Assembly Member Sian Berry
  • Clarion Housing Group
  • Jericho Solutions
  • Local tenants, including previous tenants of the Heygate Estate, Southwark
  • Academic Advisers from the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, and Birkbeck (University of London)
  • Local Councillors (Southwark, Tottenham, Battersea)

Learn more about the research here.

Cambridge House is on Instagram!

We’re on Instagram – find us @cambridgehouse 1889!

We’ve got more going on at Cambridge House than most people can keep track of, including a lot of gorgeous and exciting visual arts and exciting project activities! Check out our Instagram account for some stunning shots of our services and our users’ work: https://www.instagram.com/cambridgehouse1889/.

Follow us to keep up with our projects and enjoy beautiful work from the users of our 19Plus creative arts and social club for adults with a learning disability (see more here at their blog: http://19plus.blogspot.co.uk/), our Wednesday and Saturday Arts Clubs, and from a whole host of our other programmes.

Safer Renting Secures New Partner Boroughs

Our pioneering Safer Renting programme is being rolled out in Hounslow, Croydon, Enfield and Waltham Forest.

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Supported by the London Housing Foundation, Safer Renting provides specialist casework support to households in need. The team works with Local Authorities across London to identify vulnerable households and provide them with the support they need to protect their rights, prevent homelessness and improve their housing situation.

The project pilot began in Hounslow in early 2016  Due to high demand, we’ve expanded to work in three more boroughs: Waltham Forest, Croydon, and Enfield.

To learn about how we tackle criminal landlords and help people protect their rights, check out the latest Safer Renting blog posts: www.ch1889.org/blog/2017/legal-system-failing-courteney-safer-renting-blog/

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