It’s Christmas. Don’t argue. It’s beyond October so therefore it’s definitely Christmas. GMWRAG is being invited to things. This may not be a party!

Disappointingly, Greater Manchester Law Centre is not inviting us to a Christmas party. They’re inviting GMWRAG members to

“Turned away: ‘Gateway’ or gatekeeping in homelessness services” on Monday the 18th of November 2019 between 10:00am and 1:30 pm.

They are hosting an event with Greater Manchester Housing Action and Garden Court Chambers and would like to invite you to join us.

Shu Shin Luh and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers will be speaking about their case, ‘D’ v Essex County Council, challenging the local authority’s unlawful practice of turning homeless children away from care. (https://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/news/essex-county-council-admits-unlawful-practice-in-turning-away-homeless-children-from-care)

They will be discussing and inviting questions on the specific barriers faced by young people and homeless people in in Greater Manchester and the North West.

More information can be found on their Eventbrite page by clicking here .

Shu Shin Luh, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2006)

Shu Shin is a leading public law practitioners whose practice focuses on human rights and equality law. She has substantive knowledge and expertise in advising on matters in all areas of social welfare law, including housing, mental health and mental capacity, health care and benefits. She aims to act for her clients in a comprehensive way, advising where possible on the full range of legal issues impacting on different aspects of their lives. She also acts for organisations as claimants and interveners on policy matters of public importance. She is particularly recognised for her legal work in the areas of children’s rights, victims of trafficking and migrants. Shu Shin won the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award in 2012 for her contribution to the advancement of children’s rights. She regularly advises NGOs and government organisations on legal policy development and draft legislation in the areas of children’s rights, trafficking, immigration and violence against women and has acted as a legal advisor to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Over the course of 2018 / 2019, Shu Shin led Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court in a series of strategic challenges to the unlawful practice of Essex County Council of diverting homeless teenage children away from accommodation and support under section 20 Children Act 1989, which consequence was to deprive these children from receiving the benefit of leaving care support in their transition to adulthood. The litigation culminated in a settlement in D v Essex, in which Essex County Council admitted that this practice was unlawful. Shu Shin has also successfully challenged other local authority practices including gatekeeping to disabled children’s services (AT and KT v LB of Haringey) and subsistence levels for migrant families supported under s. 17 Children Act 1989 (PO and Ors v Newham LBC). She has also acted in high-profile challenges in the context of welfare benefits and homelessness on behalf of Shelter as an intervener in Samuels v Birmingham CC [2019] UKSC 28 and DA and Ors v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2019] UKSC 21.

Tessa Buchanan, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Year of Call: 2012)

Tessa Buchanan is a busy and widely respected barrister with an impressive track record representing clients across a broad range of social welfare cases, with particular expertise in the fields of community care, homelessness, housing and Gypsy and Traveller Law. Her practice is primarily publicly funded and she is often instructed in cases involving challenges to failures to provide support or accommodation under the Children Act 1989; cases involving children who are leaving or who have left care; and challenges to age assessments of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Tessa is regularly instructed in appeals and applications for judicial review and represents clients in a wide range of hearings in the County Court and High Court.

This year, with Shu Shin Luh of Garden Court, she represented a 16 year old homeless child, D, in D v Essex, instructed by Kelly Everett of Coram Children’s Legal Centre, in which Essex County Council admitted unlawful practice in turning away homeless children from care in breach of section 20 of the Children Act 1989. She has also appeared in several cases in the Court of Appeal, including the leading case of Panayiotou v London Borough of Waltham Forest [2017] EWCA Civ 1624.

Tessa is the vice-chair of the Housing Law Practitioners Association, a co-author of the fifth edition of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (Jordans, August 2018), and a contributing author to several other forthcoming works.

They look forward to seeing you there. Greater Manchester Law Centre, 669 Stockport Road, Longsight, Manchester, M12 4QE. 0161 769 2244

Job vacancy in Rochdale.

It’s been a while since GMWRAG has had cause to think of Rochdale and welfare rights advice in the same sentence so we’re pleased to be able to advertise the following vacancy.

The Bond Board logoWelfare Rights Worker – The Bond Board Ltd, Rochdale

We have funding to deliver additional services to work with people who have experienced homelessness and are now living in the private rented sector in Rochdale.

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a:

Welfare Rights Worker, 37hrs, £24,964 per annum

  • The successful candidate will set up and solely deliver a comprehensive Welfare Rights Service for socially excluded homeless and Private Rented Sector tenants.

We are seeking individuals who have determination and are passionate about improving the lives of people affected by homelessness.

In return we can offer you:

  • 27 days annual leave which increases over time (pro-rata for part time staff), plus paid bank holidays,
  • family friendly policies and
  • flexible working hours. We pride ourselves in being an innovative organisation, where every team member is valued and has the ability to influence the development of our services.

“I enjoy being trusted to manage my own workload, being involved in developing the service and the support and opportunities there are to develop my career,” Bond Board Employee, 2016.

Application forms and full details are available to download from our web-site:

www.thebondboard.org.uk/about-us/vacancies/

The closing date for completed application forms is Friday 7th July 2017 at 3pm.

The Bond Board is an Equal Opportunities employer and we welcome applications from the whole community.

Registered Charity Number: 1040176

These details can of course be found permanently within our job vacancies pages.

Agenda for the Tameside GMWRAG meeting now available.

If you’ve been paying attention then you’ll already know that the next GMWRAG meeting will take place on Friday the 9th of December 2016 in Tameside. Just about everything you could possibly want to know was contained in our authoritative (well, long) post here.

The only thing missing from that post was, of course, the agenda. We are pleased to announce that the agenda can now be downloaded from here.

Please remember to download and print both the agenda and minutes and bring them with you to the meeting. GMWRAG hosts are kind enough to provide a room and refreshments from their own pocket. There is no budget for printing. If anyone fancies chairing the p.m. meeting that would be much appreciated.

This is a full day meeting and to add value we have managed to secure the services of two speakers (although two may eventually read four).

SPEAKER 1 – Homeless Prevention Service officers.

The increase in rough sleeping in the towns and cities across Greater Manchester is self-evident. The increase in other forms of homelessness is seen in the queues in reception areas of council homelessness services.

Welfare rights advisers know some of the causes – bedroom tax, benefit cap, rates of LHA for singles and couples in shared accommodation, and under 35’s, as well as massive reductions in community support services, MH support, and housing rights advice services.

Other factors include reduction in hostel bed spaces, reductions in supported accommodation, rent increases that price out benefit claimants, and unfair and unreasonable sanction decisions.

Listen to those tasked with dealing with part of this situation. What can be done by local authorities to meet the need? What legal and policy restrictions do they have to work with? What are the procedures for the single and family homeless officers to respond to housing need of applicants?

David Unsworth and Jean Cavanagh specialise in brokering accommodation for applicants, sometimes vulnerable and hard to accommodate groups. They work with MH services, ex-offender support, hospital discharge teams and others. Mandy Bradbury will come along if she is available. She is the Team Leader for the Homeless Prevention and Assessment Service at Manchester City Council. They are also interested in finding out about advice services available across Greater Manchester, as their service increasingly is looking to place people outside Manchester.

SPEAKER 2 – GM Law Centre John Nicholson, Barrister and Chair of the GM Law Centre Steering Group) will talk about the reasons for the project, the current stage of development, and plans for the next 2 years and more.

Both speakers have plenty of time built into the agenda for questions and discussion.

We look forward to seeing you there.

 

British Institute of Human Rights concludes that the government has not met all the UN welfare recommendations from its 2012 periodic review of the UK

A new report from the British Institute of Human Rights concludes that the government has not met all the UN welfare recommendations from its 2012 periodic review of the UK

’Generally, the UK enjoys a good level of human rights protection; the government often proclaims the virtues of human rights on the international stage. However, this report raises some serious concerns from Civil Society Organisations about the negative direction of travel for our domestic human rights protections.’

and in relation to welfare provisions and adequate standards of living –

‘{UN] recommendations 110.41 [child poverty], 110.44 [migrant rights], 110.101 [more resources to reform welfare system], and 110.103 [adequate housing] have not been fully met and remain at risk. Recent policy and legislative changes have seen a regression in standards of living and the welfare system’s ability to tackle poverty, homelessness and worklessness. This is having a negative impact on vulnerable social groups.’

https://www.bihr.org.uk/news/hrcheckreportnews

GMWRAG does realise this information will come as a total shock to our members. Some of you will have to sit down. Some of you may have in fact fallen over. Some of you may never be the same again. Your faith in our government having been shaken to its foundations.

If you have been traumatised by this information and you would like to talk to someone then, in line with good practise, we do understand this. Please go to Rightsnet and moan away to your hearts content 🙂