- The Need for legal advice in Enfield
- Braverman, Rachel
- Enfield Law Centre
The research project aimed to find out what young people and adults want and need from legal advice services in the Borough of Enfield. Access to legal advice and representation is widely recognised as an essential factor in successful regeneration and fighting social exclusion. The information gathered will be used for planning strategies affecting Enfield and particularly the Community Strategy and to inform Enfield Law centre's service planning and fundraising.
The research concentrated on socially excluded groups where substantial advice needs were likely: young people between 13 and 19; people with disabilities; people from ethnic minorities and older people. Two research methods were used. Surveys of those attending Enfield Law Centre's Wednesday evening advice sessions and young people attending other organisations, collected between December 2003 and February 2004. A series of focus groups, five with young people and four with adults over 20 were carried out between January and March 2004. One male Ugandan and two female Angolan refugees participated in the focus group for young people. They had come to the UK as unaccompanied minors and had been here between one and two years.
Young people participating were generally unaware of their rights but were keen to learn more. Those who were refugees had experienced immigration and housing problems. On arrival they had been referred to the Refugee Council in Brixton who had in turn referred them to Enfield Social Services, giving them maps and directions to make their own way. All described feeling scared and confused never having read a map before. Once their cases were completed all three were made homeless. Two were told by the Local Authority that over 16 they were not entitled to accommodation. One found a room in a local housing project, the other in unsuitable private rented accommodation. The third was evicted by NASS at 18 and the Homeless Persons Unit turned down an application which is currently being appealed.
In general people were not aware of their rights, especially young people and those with learning disabilities. People were more likely to be aware of rights where issues had affected their lives. Problems with housing and debt were the most worrying for adults and employment and education among young people. All the refugees interviewed had experienced legal difficulties before and after they had received refugee status. When seeking help, if at all, young people turned to those they knew well such as friends, family and teachers. Trust was the most important factor. Youth clubs and workers were mentioned and refugees interviewed had used the Two-e service. Connexions was also known and trusted.
Homelessness was a particular issues for young refugees, although the Enfield Law Centre has already been affective in improving this situation. Problems with immigration pointed to a need for rapid intervention for unaccompanied minors. Profiles of Wednesday evening clients showed that some groups were not accessing the evening sessions. Only one asylum seeker and no refugees completed questionnaires although there were both present in the borough. Face to face delivery methods such as outreach sessions would be a very good way to contact excluded groups. Referral and access to services for people needing interpreters was a very difficult.
Next steps include targeting specific groups such as refugees and asylum seekers. Many people fell into more than one disadvantaged group creating complex physical and psychological barriers which need to be tackled.
- Resource Type
- Research report
- Funded By
- Enfield Community Awareness Raising and Empowerment (ECARE) Fund