National Lottery awards £5m to Community Justice Fund

Goldsmith: Demand has increased dramatically

The Community Justice Fund (CJF), an initiative between the Access to Justice Foundation and five other leading social welfare funders, has been awarded a £5m grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The fund aims to inject immediate money into specialist advice agencies to help them survive the Covid-19 pandemic, plus provide longer-term support as a “catalyst for wider renewal”.

It was only set up in May but has already issued £2.3m in grants to dozens of organisations throughout the UK, in areas such as disability, employment, housing, immigration women’s rights, benefits, debt and welfare.

The CJF was initially funded by £2.4m from the Ministry of Justice and £1.6m from the Access to Justice Foundation – which is hosting the fund – Therium Access, the Legal Education Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, AB Charitable Trust and Indigo Trust.

Other funders are the Law Society, Linklaters, Allen & Overy and the London Legal Support Trust.

The funding pot reached £7m when the £3m of government money that went to the Law Centres Network is included.

The foundation said the additional £5m would make “a significant difference in the number of grants that can be administered via the CJF”.

Lord Goldsmith QC, chair of the Access to Justice Foundation, said demand for the work of specialist legal advice organisations was “increasing dramatically” because of the pandemic, “so support for the sector is needed now more than ever”.

This is one of five partnerships announced by the National Lottery Community Fund to ensure that money reaches communities most vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. In all, it has handed out £45m, with the Covid-19 Social Enterprise Support Fund Partnership receiving nearly £20m.

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “These partnerships will extend the reach of National Lottery funding at a time when communities need it most.

“They are each experts in their field, which is why we’re delighted to be working alongside them. Their local knowledge, dedication and network of contacts will be critical in supporting the distribution of much needed funding at a critical time for communities.”

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