A legal charity set up to identify unmet legal need in Norfolk has hit the road to help ensure residents and businesses continue to have access to justice.
Norfolk Community Law Service closed its office for face-to-face advice this week, switching to providing advice by telephone ‘for the foreseeable future’. However, staff on board the bus will be available to help with enquiries, book appointments and put people in touch with legal specialists.
Jane Basham, chief executive, said: ‘Our offices are closing. That’s the right thing to do and the majority of our staff are now working from home. However we know that people’s legal problems aren’t going away because of coronavirus, and in fact they may well worsen.
‘We were really worried that people would turn up at our door needing help and we wouldn’t be here. We know that not everyone will be confident to walk to another agency, pick up the phone and call us or use the internet, and so we are going to try and help people that turn up. If it is successful then we might take the bus across the county to provide urgent legal help to those most in need.’
Sally Davenport, a solicitor who has been providing free legal advice on the phone, said she has received calls from small businesses asking about employees’ rights. ‘They want to support their staff but are concerned that they won’t have the funds to do so. As the government measures bite, I am sure that worried employees are going to be seeking information as well. The situation is unprecedented and constantly evolving. We want to try to get practical advice out to as many people as possible,’ she said.
The bus will initially be based outside NCLS’s office in Colegate but will travel across the county as urgent unmet legal needs are identified.
The Law Society is updating its coronavirus advice regularly.
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'Justice Bus' hits the streets of Norfolk amid coronavirus shutdown