As well as our regular 'Advice Squad' column in the Bristol Post, ACFA members and their clients are often called upon to campaign for and comment on social welfare issues. A selection of these media appearances can be found below.
12 July 2016 BCFM Radio Wellbeing Show
Lauren Maddox from #ACFA member, The Care Forum, was invited onto the monthly wellbeing show to talk about the ACFA Advice Squad.
5 July 2016 BBC Radio Bristol Breakfast Show
Will Stone from ACFA member, ABLC, discussed the increase in hate crime after the referendum. Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI) have supplied a resource for distribution regarding how to respond to hate crime either as a witness, or a victim - download it here.
30 June 2016 Ujima Radio
Will Stone from ACFA member, ABLC, took part in a panel discussion on the Outlook Programme about the effects of Brexit.
16 December 2015 BBC Radio Bristol Breakfast Show & BBC Points West
ACFA member, Citizens Advice Bristol, launch their new employment report, Works for You – Investigating the Impact of Insecure Employment in Bristol, on the local BBC. The author of the report, Ben Crawford, is interviewed just after 8am live on BBC Radio Bristol and this is followed in the evening by a news piece with one of their clients on BBC Points West.
20 October 2015 ITV West Country News
ACFA member, North Bristol Advice Centre, takes part in a news report on food banks.
30 September 2015 New Statesman
The first Paul Crane knew of having his benefits cut off was when his landlord called up to ask where the rent was.
Law students had to help a man in debilitating pain fight being declared "fit to work". Disabled claimants are increasingly vulnerable, with justice more difficult to access, and the need to be reassessed after being declared "fit to work",
Read the full piece here
16 September 2015 Radio 5 Live
The Daily Programme featured Avon & Bristol Law Centre's law student project and their fantastic success rate of overturning Fit for Work decisions. There is an interview with a client, one of the students and Welfare Benefits Adviser, Andy King, who makes his points brilliantly. Listen to the full piece here (starts at 08.50 mins and lasts until 33 mins)
2 September 2015 The Guardian
Almost all of the 200 “fit for work“ test appeals undertaken by a student volunteer project have been won, providing more evidence of the unreliability of the government’s controversial work capability assessment (WCA). The programme was created by Avon and Bristol Law centre, two years ago using a handpicked team of law students to fill the gap created by legal aid cuts in 2013. Legal aid has all but disappeared for welfare benefits work. Read the full piece here
1 September 2015 Lawyer 2B
Student volunteers working with ACFA member, Avon & Bristol Law Centre, have overturned 95 per cent of Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decisions made over the last two years in relation to 200 claimants who challenged the DWP’s assertion that they were fit for work. Read the full piece here
7 August 2015 BCfm The Politics Show
ACFA Member Avon & Bristol Law Centre's Will Stone outlines the impact of the changes made to legal aid over the last two years. Some areas of civil legal aid have gone completely, for example housing disrepair except where the standard of the property is so bad it can be shown to be a risk to health; family matters unless domestic violence is involved and employment law. Listen to the full piece here (starts at 41:00)
15 July 2015 ITV West Country News
ACFA member, WE Care and Repair, take part in a news report on rogue traders. The organisation offers a TrustMark certified Handyperson Service to ensure that the over 60s and disabled people have access to reputable workmen; these groups are particularly vulnerable to scams.
8 July 2015 BBC News Points West
Steve Woodcock, Manager of ACFA member, St Pauls Advice Centre, provides comments on the welfare cuts announced in the Budget earlier today.
30 June 2015 ITV West Country News
Gail Bowen-Huggett (ACFA) helped gain exposure for the launch of 'Babbers,' a new radio show, broadcast weekly on Ujima Radio 98FM, designed to celebrate the elderly. An initiative by the Bristol Ageing Better Partnership, the show is planned, produced and presented by 8 volunteers, all of whom are over 50 with most never having worked in radio before.
17 and 18 June 2015 ITV West Country News
Gail Bowen-Huggett (ACFA) helped gain exposure for the plight of young people with disabilities protesting for their right to have further education; she arranged for Deborah Dommett and her daughter, Sita, to talk about their personal struggle with Gloucestershire County Council to fund Sita's place at a specialist college in Somerset. View the news item here
13 March 2015 Law Centres Network: Equality safeguards in work are not 'out of date'
News media today have been preoccupied with comments made by Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). In an interview recorded last autumn Mr Farage said last autumn Mr Farage said that UKIP would scrap much of the legislation designed to prevent racial discrimination in work, because it is out of date.
This observation is simply not borne out by the experience of Law Centre lawyers across the country. Douglas Johnson, of Sheffield Citizens Advice and Law Centre, said: “In our employment advice, the most severe cases of race discrimination are often based on the colour of a worker’s skin, whether they are British or not. In addition, there is a steady stream of cases of lower-level harassment based on nationality – or perceived nationality.
Will Stone, of Avon & Bristol Law Centreol Law Centre, has similar experience. He said: “Laws designed to prevent racial discrimination in work have been in place for nearly 50 years and have protected all workers from unfavourable treatment on the grounds of race or nationality.
“We are contacted daily by workers describing treatment they have suffered because of their race or nationality. This includes non-payment of wages, failure to provide pay slips required by law, long and unsocial hours and poor, sometimes unsafe working conditions, as well as harassment and dismissal.
“Scrapping equality laws will not lead to improved conditions or treatment but will amount to a charter for inequality – truly an immense step backwards.
The Law Centres Network believes that the key to improving prospects for all workers, British and migrant alike, is to work towards improving conditions and strengthening enforcement of current laws, as well as access to legal advice and redress.
If you would like to help Law Centres with this work, click here to get involved!
16 January 2015 Bristol Post News Article: Experienced Bristol barrister hits out at 'unaffordable' legal system
Barrister, Robert Spicer, dscusses his new book and comments on the current state of legal advice. He acknowledges the great work done by ACFA Member, Avon & Bristol Law Centre, but highlights that "it is 'overburdened' and unable to cope with the number of people seeking free legal advice." Read the full article here