An organisation that provides free legal advice to some of the most disadvantaged people of Merseyside has expanded its service after receiving a grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation.
Merseyside Law Centre dates back to the 1970s and aims to tackle the needs arising from extreme disadvantage, poverty, food poverty and homelessness in the most deprived areas of Liverpool.
The organisation’s headquarters are in Bold Street, in Liverpool city centre, but they opened a second base in Dovecot Multi Activity Centre (MAC).
Merseyside Law Centre has seen a huge surge in demand for its services and received £81,669 from the Steve Morgan Foundation for help to fund an assessment and triage worker for three years at the Dovecot base.
Steve Morgan Foundation projects manager Ruth Dixon presented the cheque to Merseyside Law Centre executive director Janet Coe and the new assessment and triage worker Tracy Kofi, who is already in post.
Coe said, “We’re the only walk-in service for benefits and housing on Dovecot and demand for our services has grown.
“Dovecot is predominately made up of social housing. There’s very little private rented accommodation. Very few people own their own houses and there are a lot of complex health issues.
“A lot of our workload relates to debt and housing. We’re seeing people with massive rent arrears and that’s only going to increase as the cost of living crisis grows.
“On average we’re seeing 12 people at each drop-in session but we’re seeing a sharp rise related to rising energy prices.”
Merseyside Law Centre has a team of qualified and experienced solicitors and solicitor trainees, caseworkers and admin support staff who provide free specialist legal advice to people disadvantaged by poverty and/or disability.
The organisation has resumed face-to-face meetings after the pandemic.
Coe said, “Tracy’s role in running the triage service is absolutely crucial. We didn’t have anyone to initially assess people’s needs and intervene at the earliest stage so people’s problems don’t escalate.
“We don’t have any funding for triage services so without the Steve Morgan Foundation we couldn’t have opened it. We’re very grateful.”