School of Law students engage in a range of initiatives in addition to their work at the Legal Advice Centre.
Below are some examples of recent projects our students have been involved in:
Based within Manchester Business School, the Enterprise Centre supports both students and alumni of The University of Manchester who are setting up and running their own businesses.
A group of postgraduate law students are producing a set of Frequently Asked Questions sheets on common issues arising for small businesses for use by the Manchester Enterprise Centre. These include issues around business structures, investment, intellectual property, tax, employees, service agreements, conducting business across international borders and also issues arising for social enterprises.
The Pro Bono Society strives to serve the local community by promoting and facilitating access to justice. Through our various programmes we hope to increase awareness of the importance of the legal system and the impact it can have on individuals. We are aware that there remains a vast amount of unmet legal need in our community and this is a problem we hope to alleviate.
The Pro Bono Society offers students the opportunity to get involved in group projects aiming to provide legal information to different sectors of the local community. These can be in the form of workshops, seminars, or information drop-in desks etc. Following the legal aid cuts this has become a good way for the local community to gain information on legal rights as well as a great opportunity for students to gain experience in researching and public speaking.
A collaboration with On the Out, a charity set up to help ex-prisoners get back on their feet. We have conducted various presentations on this project, on issues such as: housing rights, family law, benefit sanctions. Presentations are conducted with handouts and typically last 1-2 hours. The average attendance is around 6-8 individuals and is mainly comprised of the core staff at the centre. After the presentation, we typically conduct a Q&A and discuss the issues we have presented on.
Deaf Centre project
A collaboration with the Manchester deaf centre, who provide support for deaf individuals in the community. We have conducted presentations on the Care Act, GDPR and universal credit. Each presentation is around 10-15 minutes long and power points are used as visual aids. The previous attendance was 42 service users, who were keen to ask questions and the majority requested further information via handouts. An Interpreter is necessary.
A collaboration with Barnardos, who help children in poverty, support young carers and help families looking to adopt or foster a child. We have conducted a drop in session lasting around 2 hours this year, which dealt with housing rights. Future topics we will present on include: employment and universal credit. The drop in sessions are very Q&A based, and the last session was aimed at 16-21 year old care leavers, as well as staff at the centre.
Stop the Traffik project
We have partnered with the Stop the traffik society and organisation to deliver training sessions aimed at developing student awareness and understanding of trafficking. We aim to use this knowledge to conduct presentations at various schools around Manchester, to raise awareness about trafficking in the community.
Wai Yin project
A collaboration with the Wai Yin centre, who provide support to the Chinese community within Manchester. Presentations have thus far revolved around universal credit and disability rights, and last between 2-3 hours. Attendance by service users is mixed, varying between 10-20 people. An interpreter is required for this presentation.
Citizens' Advice Bureau Research and Campaigns project 2017-18
The LAC has been involved in a partnership project with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Manchester (CAM), with a current postgraduate student, Caroline Henaghan, acting as volunteer coordinator between the LAC and CAM’s representative, Vicky Egerton. This project offers students the opportunity to volunteer with CAM’s research and campaigns work, committing around 3 hours per week during term-time to further the various campaign and policy-related initiatives being put into development by CAM, as they are identified over the course of the project.
This year the call for volunteers was launched at the LAC Training Day in September 2017. 13 students signed up initially and all were invited to an induction presentation at the CAM offices. Four of them took up a place on CAM’s Research & Campaigns Team and were assigned to work on various projects. These included gathering data relating to CAM’s Real Living Wage for under-25’s campaign; and researching the impact of council tax debt on Manchester residents, to influence Manchester City Council to sign up to the Citizens’ Advice Council Tax Protocol.
Following recent discussion with CAM representatives - who are still keen to get the students involved in their research and campaigns work - the partnership project is set to continue into the 2018-19 academic year. Before stepping down from her role, Caroline Henaghan is currently gathering feedback from students about their experiences of volunteering with CAM. William Bevin-Nicholls, the School of Law’s External Relations Officer, is then set to take on the role of coordinator between CAM and the LAC going forward to next year.
Wraparound Partnership project 2017-18
The LAC has been involved in a partnership project with the Wraparound Partnership in Manchester. Wraparound Partnership is a social enterprise working with and supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their families.
The project was coordinated by postgraduate student Moyo Adunola acting as volunteer coordinator between the LAC and Wraparound’s representatives, Elizabeth Stanley and Sarah Windrum. This project offers students the opportunity to volunteer with Wraparound’s work supporting children and families with special educational needs.
This year the call for volunteers was launched at the LAC Training Day in September 2017. Students were then invited to apply to be student volunteers with Wraparound and an application form was circulated in October 2017. Seven students were recruited initially (including the student coordinator) and all were invited to an induction presentation at the Wraparound’s offices in Old Trafford. The student volunteers received training in conducting interviews to assist families with the completion of a request for an Education Health and Care Plan to enable them to access relevant support from the Local Authority. Student volunteers also shadowed Wraparound’s own advisors carrying out interviews with families. The intention was that by semester two the student volunteers would be able to conduct interviews themselves, but unfortunately due to a fall in the number of clients there were no available interviews for the students to conduct. Instead the students worked on conducting file reviews and preparing case summaries for the files.
The LAC is in the process of collating feedback from the student volunteers and will then review the project with representatives from Wraparound Partnership before a decision is made about the continuation of the project for the next academic year.