From education to employment

National award recognises Chester Law students’ volunteering work

University of Chester(@uochester) Law students have won a prestigious national award at the House of Lords in recognition of their volunteer work with women experiencing domestic abuse.

Student volunteers from the University’s School of Law and Social Justice have been named winners of the 2024 LawWorks and Attorney General’s Student Pro Bono Award for Best New Pro Bono Activity after dedicating their time to supporting those in abusive relationships.

The Awards celebrate the best pro bono activities – legal advice or representation provided free of charge in the public interest – undertaken by Law students and schools across the UK. This is the fourth consecutive year that University of Chester Law students participating in the Chester Community Law Project (CCLP) have been shortlisted for the Awards, and the second year that they have been awarded first place.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at the House of Lords in May and the Awards were presented by the Attorney General, the Rt Hon Victoria Prentis KC MP.

The recognised student initiative, ‘Reach out to Survivors: Domestic Abuse’, is a CCLP providing legal support to those experiencing domestic abuse in the Chester area. The project is overseen by second-year Law student Chloe Lewis and run by a team of nine student volunteers.

The student team works in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Domestic Abuse Intervention and Prevention Service, with student volunteers attending weekly support groups for women run by Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs). Students provide on-the-spot legal information, guidance and moral support to those attending who need assistance because of being in an abusive relationship.

This support is underpinned by student-produced leaflets on topics including Non-Molestation, Occupation, Child Arrangement and Restraining Orders. Students have also leveraged the power of technology to enable those who need guidance to access it safely online.

The student team has also worked with Chester-based charity, Tomorrow’s Women, delivering a series of guidance presentations on the legal options available to women in abusive situations.

In addition to guidance and information, student volunteers also run a term-time appointment-based service to assist women survivors in completing applications for Non-Molestation and Occupation Orders.

In its first year of operation, the student volunteer team has reached thousands of individuals online, provided information and guidance to more than 200 individuals, and has supported eight women with specific legal queries, all of whom have achieved a positive outcome at court.

Chloe Lewis, Student Project Manager, said:

“It is a real honour to have accepted an award for our Reach Out to Survivors: Domestic Abuse project. I am immensely proud of the student volunteers who have been working with me and all they have contributed to achieve such an award. We are incredibly thankful to the Law School for giving us such a wonderful opportunity.”

Associate Professor Andrea Todd, the Law School’s Director of Pro Bono and Community Engagement said:

“Every year our student volunteers at Chester Community Law Project dedicate hundreds of hours to supporting the most vulnerable in our community. It means a great deal to us that the Domestic Abuse team’s crucial work in assisting those with experience of domestic abuse has been recognised at the highest level.”

The Attorney General, the Rt Hon Victoria Prentis KC MP commented:

“Pro bono work is vitally important. It benefits both the people who receive it and the lawyers that donate their valuable time to deliver it. Congratulations to all the nominees who were put forward in some excellent entries.”

Related Articles

Promises, Possibilities & Political Futures…

Tristan Arnison discusses the main UK parties’ education policies for the upcoming election. While specifics vary, common themes emerge around curriculum reform, skills training, and…