A free legal housing advice service has been launched by local campaigners to meet rising needs for legal aid in Lewisham.
Community activist group People Before Profit has teamed up with an experienced solicitor from housing and homelessness charity Shelter to offer legal housing advice every first Wednesday of the month.
Ray Woolford, housing spokesman for People Before Profit, said: “The range of people in housing crisis in the area today is so broad; from young people on a low income, to foreigners exploited on short term contracts, disabled and homeless people. They all need help and support to know and claim their rights.”
He added: “We’ve seen small disputes between neighbours turn into legal cases of racism and anti-social behaviour because they were not dealt with carefully, thoughtfully and thoroughly at an early stage.”
Nik Antoniades, 57, a solicitor with over 11 years experience working for Shelter Housing Aid Services in Islington, helped set up the service.
He said: “There is a current need for law services in the borough. At the least we are a sticking plaster. More and more solicitors are getting out of legal aid and so there is less availability and advice for people that really need it.”
Opening its doors yesterday, the free service was established to fill the space left after the legal advice centre on Deptford High Street closed earlier this year.
Residents in Lewisham and Greenwich can schedule a private appointment with Antoniades at the People Before Profit office on New Cross Road.
People Before Profit are a community pressure group that campaigns on issues effecting Lewisham residents, including the Lewisham Hospital downgrade and local library closures. They also set up the Lewisham foodbank service in 2012.