Vauxhall Law Centre has existed for almost 50 years, the Centre was set up as a result of collaboration between local Community Activists, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool Law Society and the John Moores Foundation all of whom remain broadly supportive of the work undertaken at the Centre today.
Vauxhall Community Law & Information Centre officially opened in 1973 and was originally managed by the Liverpool Law Society. The Information Centre was part of Vauxhall Neighbourhood Council, the local community organisation. Born from the movement in the 1960’s from the Society of Labour Lawyers, to establish ‘institutions of neighbourhood law firms’ to set up a centre of advice in the community to give legal advice to those living/working in the most deprived communities (including poor health, poor housing, poor academic achievements, poor spokesman for the local community).
This new initiative was originally set up by the Council as a community project known as Vauxhall Steering Group due to people failing to utilise local statutory services, be it solicitors, social services or housing issues. The Steering group eventually left in 1974, and Vauxhall Neighbourhood Council became the successor until 2019 when the Centre became fully independent.
The Law Centre was first established in Limekiln Street and then later moved to the old St Silvesters school which was known as Vauxhall Multi-Services Centre from the 1970s. The Centre provided integrated services propounded by the Heath government, therefore Probation services and many council social workers were also based in the building as well as Vauxhall Neighbourhood Council. This was intended to be a one stop shop for advice to help people with housing, welfare benefits, probation services and even a local football league.
In its first 15 years the Law Centre’s work mainly involved housing disrepair, in view of the poor quality of the housing stock in the areas surrounding the Centre whilst the Information Centre assisted in welfare rights, debt and fuel work. In 1988 the Law Centre was reconstituted as a company limited by guarantee and run by a Management Committee consisting primarily of local people and Liverpool City Council and Law Society members. It became a charity in 1989 and then in 1998 the Law Centre and the Information Centre merged to become Vauxhall Community Law and Information Centre, remaining a company limited by guarantee and a charity.
From 1989 until 2015 its main funder was Liverpool City Council, with regular legal aid income until 2011. The Law Centre’s work has changed from 1989 to reflect the improvement in the housing stock. Although there continues to be housing work which is mainly related to rent arrears and possession proceedings. Social security, employment and debt cases have become became the main areas of work to be taken on.
Today the Vauxhall Community Law and Information Centre still stands to serve its community as it has done since inception. Whilst the Centre is undergoing development into other areas of advice we are still very much community focused with in our work. We are now able to offer free legal advice on issues such a welfare benefits mainly in regards to disability benefits, debt, housing and bereavement. Our goal is to continue to uplift our community.