Welfare rights project celebrated with two notable awards

The impact the School of Law’s Welfare Rights Project has had on the local community has been recognised through two exciting awards.

The first award came at a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster in April, where a judging panel of the national pro bono charity, LawWorks, named the project as the Best New Student Pro Bono Project.

During the ceremony the project was described as having achieved a great deal from a ‘standing start.' Following training by Leeds City Council’s Welfare Rights Unit, students saw their first Personal Independent Payment (PIP) clients in October 2016, and as of May 2017 it is projected they will have helped those clients to secure nearly £170,000 worth of benefits.

PIP applicants are not entitled to legal assistance with the completion of the form, but many require support with doing so: the form is extremely long and can be complicated to complete independently, particularly for those clients living with particular conditions, or for whom English is not their first language. Assistance with completing the form is therefore of great importance to many clients, and the student volunteers have been able to help a large number of clients in one of the most economically deprived areas of Leeds to do so.

Just over a week later, the Project received the Leeds for Life Citizenship (Community) Award, which recognizes projects which have made a positive difference to a community locally, nationally or internationally.

Director of Clinics at the School of Law, Lydia Bleasdale, commented that: "the students have had a very positive impact upon their local community through this project, helping clients to secure funds to which they are entitled. The work of the students has been closely monitored by Leeds City Council and we are delighted to report that the quality of work they have done, and the outcomes for clients, is as would be expected of experienced members of their team. The students have worked extremely hard to uphold high standards of client care, and to get the right outcomes for their clients, and as a School we are extremely proud of them. That they have done so is in no small part thanks to the excellent training and supervision they have been given by the Council, as well as the supervision provided by our Clinics co-ordinator, Sarah Humphreys."