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Fighting homelessness on the front line

Helen Roberts explains how a legal advice centre in Wales is tackling one of society’s greatest crises. Matthew Rogers reports

14 August 2017

England and Wales are facing a homelessness crisis. In 2016, local authorities (LAs) in England accepted 59,260 households as being statutorily homeless (a 22 per cent rise over five years); in Wales, this figure was 10,884 (a 57 per cent rise on 2015). Thousands more are believed to be at risk, including those sleeping rough on the streets.

At The Speakeasy advice centre in Cardiff, Helen Roberts, who became the first Justice First Fellow to qualify as a solicitor in May 2016, assists clients faced with the prospect of being made homeless. Common cases include lodging homelessness reviews for ‘intentionally homeless’ clients, following LA decisions and defending possession proceedings.

“I had a client who was fleeing domestic abuse, and was heavily pregnant,” says Roberts. “She had made a homelessness application on the grounds that it was unre...

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