Can lawyers tackle homelessness? Women, homelessness and the law
Housing campaigners are calling for politicians to take action to end the ‘housing emergency.’ In the UK, 17.5 million people are denied the right to a safe home and women are disproportionately affected. Recent research from the housing charity Shelter has found that 1 in 4 single women with children live in a home that harms their or their family’s physical or mental health. 850,000 lone mothers do not have a safe or secure home.
On International Women’s Day 2024, the King’s Legal Clinic invites you to a lunchtime panel discussion, featuring legal and charity sector experts, to discuss women’s experiences of being homeless or living in unfit housing. We will hear about the barriers women face to finding safe and secure housing and find out what lawyers, campaigners and charities are doing to shape better law, policies and practice.
This event is not just for women – everyone is welcome. Please register for a ticket to secure your place.
Sandwich lunch: 12:30 – 13:00
Panel discussion: 13:00 – 14:00
Chair: Jo Underwood, supervising solicitor and lecturer, King’s Legal Clinic
Jo is a supervising solicitor and lecturer in the King’s Legal Clinic at the Dickson Poon School of Law. She specialises in housing and public law.
Prior to working at King’s, Jo led the strategic legal team in the housing and homelessness charity Shelter. She has led test cases and third-party interventions on behalf of Shelter in several leading cases concerning homelessness, social security and poor housing. This includes numerous Supreme Court challenges relating to homelessness, the benefit cap and out of area temporary housing placements. Jo also carried out training, policy, campaigning and research activities at Shelter in relation to homelessness and bad housing. Jo led work to assist the charity to develop new and varied ways to use the law to achieve social change.
Tessa Buchanan, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Tessa practises primarily in the fields of housing, homelessness, community care, and Gypsy and Traveller law, with a particular focus on public law, human rights, and discrimination. She is committed to legal aid work. Tessa won Barrister of the Year at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2021.
She is a co-author of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice (6th edition, Lexis Nexis, 2022) and a contributing author to Gypsy and Traveller Law (3rd edition, LAG, 2020), Housing Law Handbook (2nd edition, Law Society, 2020) and the Migrant Support Handbook (1st edition, LAG, forthcoming). She is a member of the EHRC’s panel of preferred Counsel.
Siobhan Taylor-Ward, Solicitor, Vauxhall Law Centre
Siobhan is a housing solicitor at Vauxhall Law Centre in Liverpool. She has a particular focus on housing rights for asylum seekers and migrants. She is a Young Legal Aid Lawyer committee member with a focus on social mobility, as well as being a member of the Liverpool Law Society Access to Justice Committee. She has been chair of the Liverpool branch of ACORN Tenant’s Union since May 2019. She completed her training as a solicitor with the Justice First Fellowship and in 2020 was named Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year at the prestigious Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards.
Jane Williams, CEO, Magpie Project
Jane Williams founded the Magpie Project in 2017 in response to the need she saw locally among those with children under five in insecure accommodation. The Magpie Project now runs a full term time timetable of support from stay and play, music, family support, to form filling, pathways into volunteering, study or employment.
The Magpie Project has enabled its families to tell their stories with Shelter, UNICEF, JustFair and in Amnesty reports as well as appear on panels with the European Commissioner for Human Rights and All Party Parliamentary groups. They are currently running a campaign asking that no child be housed for longer than the legal limit of six weeks in a hotel without a kitchen.
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