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A note from Sir Nicolas Bratza

Published: 18 May 2015


Sir Nicolas Bratza is a Toynbee Hall Ambassador. Sir Nicolas has had a successful career as a lawyer and is the former President of the European Court of Human Rights

For 116 years Toynbee Hall's Free Legal Advice Centre has represented a beacon of hope for those in the community of East London in need of legal advice but without the funds to pay for it. It is a striking, and in many respects depressing, fact that, despite the improvements in social and economic conditions which have occurred within that period, the need for the help provided by the Centre is as strong now, if not stronger, than it has ever been in its history; in the last year alone, over 5,000 people turned to the Centre for assistance, many in a desperate situation. This is in large measure the result of the stringent cuts in the legal aid budget, which has made legal advice unaffordable for so many.

The Centre has always depended on a devoted body of volunteers - practicing lawyers, trainees and law students – who over the decades have willingly donated their time and legal skills to assist those in need. But the Centre needs money to provide the services it does. Its budget is small and it is a regrettable fact that last year one of its evening sessions had to be closed for lack of funds.

The “after work” 10K sponsored walk is a wonderful initiative to raise vital funds for the Centre and, if the modest target of £3,500 were to be reached, it could pay for an evening session to run for a period of 3 months. It is to be hoped that the target will be far exceeded, to enable the Centre to continue to provide its vital services in the long term.

I warmly congratulate and thank all those who take part in the walk to raise funds for a remarkable institution, with which I am very proud to be associated. I wish all who take part in the walk every success.”

All of the money raised will go towards helping people like Sarah build a better, more stable future, for themselves and their families. You can help us ensure that everybody has access to justice. Sponsor #TeamToynbee today.

Find out why Elizabeth Garcia, a Toynbee Hall Free Legal Advice volunteer, is joining #TeamToynbee for the London Legal Walk this year.