A record (legal) high.

That moment when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

GMWRAG has inevitably suffered along with our members over the past few years of austerity as we’ve seen member organisations and well-respected individual members find themselves on the wrong end of significant cuts and areas of Greater Manchester and indeed the North West of England become advice deserts. During the past 5 years we have worked hard to maintain the usefulness of our site and group but it has been a battle. The number of views tell their own story. Back in 2013 we hit a peak of 12,261 views over the whole year but this dropped dramatically a year later to 11,346 and we have done well to keep numbers over 9,000 in the intervening years.

Whilst austerity is still being foisted on many of our members with the inevitable consequences on both them and their clients it does seem as though things have stabilised to some extent and there’s some small belated recognition that advice saves more money than it will ever consume. Good to read therefore about proposals to build more law centres and to see some services which have struggled in recent years holding steady.

Over here at GMWRAG HQ we’ve been pleased to note that our numbers are back on the rise and significantly so. Our views for this year already significantly exceed those for each of the past 3 years and are currently the 3rd highest in our history and rising. Additionally we have just exceeded 1,000 view per month for 4 times in a row for the 1st time in our history.

In part this is clearly a reflection of the sheer volume we have been posting but it’s also clear that it’s also a measure of the fact many of you are still out there and thriving and the concern about those issues about which we have posted e.g. Universal Credit.

We’d also like to thank many of you for being “social” and sharing our many ramblings across social meejah. You’ve shared our posts 8,180 times over the past 9 years including Facebook 1,434 times. Interestingly you’ve shared our stuff 1,326 times on Reddit (no, us neither) and on Twitter a mere 928 times.

Amusingly our most shared post was one on something which did not come to pass (the transfer of AA to local authority funding). Perhaps depressingly the single most viewed thing on our site (after the home page) is our copy of the ESA 3 change of circumstances form.

Some people do actually think there is a GMWRAG HQ! We think we could get them PIP!

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Everyday Equality Conference… and…

GMWRAG invites you to Equality and Diversity Forum’s Everyday Equality conference on the 10th of May 2018 in London. They will be launching our groundbreaking online handbook: Practical Equality Rights in Welfare Benefits Advice, a tool to help information and advice providers use equality and human rights to solve everyday discrimination problems in the welfare benefits system.

The conference will be chaired by Julie Bishop, Director of Law Centres Network and EDF trustee, and other speakers are experts in benefits or discrimination (or both).  (We are awaiting a few confirmations before finalising the agenda, but these definitely including PLPMIND and Steve Hynes from LAG.)

The conference will be held 10.30am-4pm, at NCVO, 8 All Saints St, London. I have attached our draft agenda for the event.

It is appreciated that this event is in London but GMWRAG would be more than happy to arrange to chat and or do a presentation in Manchester, about the project and the handbook and several of our members are already lobbying for a northern version of this event. Don’t let this put you off signing up for a trip to London as we have nothing confirmed as yet.

The draft agenda can be downloaded from here.

The event is part of the Everyday Equality project funded by the EHRC.

Job vacancies on GMWRAG becoming a recurring theme?

It has been some time since job vacancies were a regular thing on the GMWRAG web site. We’re not quite there yet but it looks like we’ve found the tunnel if not yet a light at the end of it. In the meantime…

SUPERVISING SOLICITOR

People are facing greater and greater hardship as a result of cuts in benefits, homelessness, uncertainty at work, and escalating racism. Legal aid – which is an essential part of the welfare state – has been cut again and again. The people most in need across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester are being deprived of access to justice.

Greater Manchester Law Centre has been set up as a clear challenge to this. We now have premises (the main Princess Road in inner city Moss Side) and volunteers providing some legal advice (welfare rights, with sessional solicitors offering more widely).

We have been generously supported by two national charitable trusts to appoint a Supervising Solicitor so that we can become a “law centre” (full member of the Law Centres Network) and start to supervise and regulate all our advice and representation.

We are looking for a truly tremendous person (or possibly a job share) to make the law centres policy demands and fulfill our service delivery aims.

This will be a three year post (in the first instance) and requires someone who is able to start up the paid work force from almost scratch. Anyone who is interested is invited to contact j.nicholson@kenworthysbarristers.co.uk or denise@gmiau.org in the first instance (for informal inquiries and information).

Formal applications will need to be made by 12.00pm (noon) on Monday the 7th of November 2016 and we are hoping that interviews will be able to be held in Manchester within the next 10 days after that.

Further details available on www.gmlaw.org.uk and details of the post can also be found on our Job Vacancies page up to the expiry date. After that you can always find details of what has been advertised here at our previous job vacancies archive.

[*Currently this is “Greater Manchester Law Centre Steering Group” – full membership of the Law Centres Network is to be considered at their next meeting in November 2016]