New specialist legal advice clinic launches in Scotland to support children and family with focus on those from BAME backgrounds

A Glasgow-based law clinic will provide free children’s rights and family law advice, with a specific focus to support children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

The Scottish Child Law Centre’s (SCLC) legal clinic was established this week and hopes to offer real-time insight into the state of children’s rights in Scotland through child and family law advice.

The clinic will run for six weeks and be accessible to people in Glasgow via third sector referral or self-referral, with a focus on those of ethnic minority backgrounds.

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The facility will involve a team of solicitors from the centre based at Samaritan House in Govanhill providing in-person legal advice one day a week, with the option for service users to have a language interpreter.

Sarah Foster, director, and Amerdeep Dhami, solicitor, from the Scottish Child Law Centre.
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The move follows engagement with racial equality organisations, including Amina (the Muslim Women's Resource Centre), and the Scottish Minority Ethnic Women’s Network.

The aim is to ensure children’s rights legal advice reaches more families from black and ethnic minority backgrounds in one of Scotland’s most diverse communities.

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SCLC director Sarah Forster said: “Within the cost-of-living crisis, an increasing number of families are unable to find the money to instruct a solicitor for initial legal advice on the issues they face. This means in more Scottish households, for example where a child might be facing the children’s hearing system, their rights are placed in competition with household bills, heating and eating.

“Our new community-based clinic in Glasgow aims to alleviate some of these challenges by providing free legal advice, and a chance to be on the ground in communities where we know issues of poverty and discrimination persistently impact the lives of children."

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The main areas the clinic expects to advise on are children’s rights following separation or divorce, particularly with involvement of domestic violence, as well as where children are facing the hearing system, or are held criminally responsible at the age of 12.

The new initiative is receiving referrals from partnership organisations including Govanhill Law Centre, the Space – a local Govanhill charity – and Govanhill Development Trust.

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After the initial six-week pilot of the clinic, the SCLC plans to use its success to advocate for a long-term community clinic specialising in child law in the area and will be looking for local and national government to step up with support.

Rachel Moon, senior solicitor at the Govan Law Centre, said: “This clinic will provide an important new service to the local area, and mean children and families are able to access children’s rights and family law advice at no cost, during an increasingly difficult winter for those on low incomes.

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“We are happy to support this initiative for the community and wish the team every success as they start what could quickly become a highly used service”.

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