“Central England Law Centre is an organisation that leaves no stone unturned in the quest for social justice for society’s most vulnerable people.”
Our staff and volunteers work together to deliver our services but are organised into teams under specialist areas of law and expertise. Each Team is led by a solicitor or advisor who bring years of experience and dedication to human rights law.
Emma is the Programme Manager for IGNITE, a partnership with Grapevine, Childrens' Services and Whitefriars Housing. Emma has worked in a variety of operational roles for the third sector including Voluntary Service Overseas Kazakhstan, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and a Stroke Survivors Project in Hackney. She also worked for Coventry as Young people’s manager at the New Deal for Communities in Wood End and as Care Act Implementation Manager.
The Ignite role combines Emma’s enthusiasm to find solutions to some of our most difficult social problems with the need to strategically encourage others around the change needed in public services if we are to help people earlier and more effectively in overcoming difficulties and preventing crisis.
Claire is responsible for managing the information we collect about the impact of our work on individuals and our community. She helps us to gather evidence to tell that story better to our current and potential funders and partners. She supports teams to share knowledge and focus on the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ by developing strategies and priorities that meet the needs of clients drawing on best practice and what the evidence tells us works.
Claire has worked in paid and voluntary roles in the charity and not for profit sector for over 15 years including periods at the HIV/AIDS Alliance, Refugee Action, Bristol Refugee Rights, Refugee Women of Bristol and the University of the West of England in project management and organisational development roles. She has a particular interest in how the legal sector communicates and works with the public to improve legal capability in society.
Michael is a community care and public law caseworker. He worked for the old Birmingham Law Centre for 17 years before its closure in August 2013 and specialises in the area of law where immigration status affects entitlement to social and welfare support. He has experience of representation in the First-tier and Upper Tribunal as well as Judicial Review and has taken several cases to the Court of Appeal.
Emma is an experienced Community Care and Public Law solicitor, having represented clients in several high profile challenges to cuts in services and support for disabled people and in cases focused on securing adequate support for children. Emma joined Central England Law Centre in August 2016 from private practice to work on the RIPPLE Project and the MAC Project (Mother and Child Project), both of which aim to improve legal rights knowledge and use of the law by vulnerable citizens. Emma acts in a broad range of health and social care matters.
Lydia is an experienced housing solicitor who supervises a dedicated team in Coventry. Lydia has extensive experience of dealing with a wide range of housing matters and has developed a particular interest in anti-social behaviour injunctions and committal hearings.
Lydia undertakes her own advocacy as much as she can and is well respected by Coventry County Court. Lydia also has experience of dealing with complex discrimination cases and public law matters.
John is a qualified solicitor with 20 years’ experience as a Family Solicitor in private practice. John has extensive experience in a wide range of family matters and is a member of The Law Society Accredited Advanced Family Panel. He specialises in providing advice and assistance to victims of domestic violence and abuse and to parents involved in Care proceedings.
Karen joined the Law Centre in 2015 and leads on our public law and human rights work. She qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and worked for 4 years post-qualification in an inner city legal aid practice. Karen developed her public law expertise in her 5 years at the Public Law Project, first as Project Solicitor and then as Director of the organisation. She was one of the founding partners of Public Law Solicitors in Birmingham before joining the Law Centre. Karen has particular experience in the health and social care fields, having specialised in this area for over 20 years. Karen is an experienced trainer, and writes for a number of specialist legal journals.
David has been employed by the Law Centre since February 2012 as a welfare benefits specialist and as well as leading the team represents clients across the spectrum of benefits including first tier tribunal and upper tribunal.
David has been involved in welfare rights since 1985 and came to the Law Centre from Birmingham Tribunal Unit where he worked as a tribunal representative.
As well as leading the Employment Team, Katherine coordinates volunteers across the Law Centre. In this role she works closely with university partners in supervising student advice clinics in Coventry and Birmingham.
Katherine is a qualified solicitor since 2013, and she has several years’ experience working in the voluntary sector providing general advice on social welfare law and specialist advice and representation in welfare benefits, family and employment law matters. She has a particular interest in pregnancy and maternity discrimination. Katherine is also an experienced university lecturer teaching postgraduates and has a particular interest in social policy campaigning.
Robert is an experienced immigration and asylum law solicitor and heads up a dedicated team across Coventry and Birmingham as well as handling his own case load. Robert has substantial experience in representation at the Immigration and Asylum chamber (First-tier and Upper-tier) and is regularly instructed on cases in the higher courts. Robert is accredited both to the Level 2 and Supervisor Legal Aid Agency standards. He works with many of the leading barristers in the field of immigration and human rights law and has gained the respect of chambers throughout the Midlands and London.
Robert also trains Citizen’s Advice volunteers throughout the UK in immigration law and teaches various modules for CILEX students at Coventry University Group.
Anne has a wealth of experience providing specialist advice to vulnerable families in crisis and since working at the Law Centre, has been involved in several projects including British Gas - Tackling Fuel Debts, Children and Families’ First service offering intensive advice to families (Troubled Families initiative) and Team Lead for the Ignite Project.
Anne has previously worked in the voluntary and housing sector giving benefits and debt advice. She also has a background in saving energy, home safety and local government grants.
Wendy manages our Finance Team and is responsible for ensuring management of our finances and risk management processes. She ensures the correct recognition of and accounting for all of the funds that we have, as well as compliance with Charities Commission Guidance and Company law. Wendy has worked in voluntary sectors for many years and has been at the Law Centre now for 10 years and has guided us through a period of growth and the many changes that we have experienced in our funding sources as well as the numerous changes to Legal Aid.
Elayne is responsible for the daily management of the Law Centre ensuring it complies with its legal and regulatory requirements as well as working closely with team heads to manage the delivery of our services.
Elayne qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and since then has worked primarily in the voluntary sector specialising in Employment and Discrimination Law. Elayne joined the Law Centre in 2004 and has represented clients in the Employment Tribunal and County court covering all aspects of employment and discrimination law. In 2013 she was appointed as a fee paid Employment Judge and at the same time took on the responsibility of the day to day management of the Law Centre. Elayne is passionate about ensuring the rights of individuals, particularly those who are disadvantaged, are upheld and maintained and is committed to the work of the Law Centre.
Sue has led the Law Centre since 2004 and is responsible for the effective strategic management, development and leadership of the Law Centre . Previously, she was Director of Operations at Heart of England Housing Group, a housing association in Stratford upon Avon, and Head of Housing Management and Neighbourhood and Community Services at Coventry City Council.
Matthew Smerdon, Chief Executive of The Legal Education Foundation said of Sue: “Sue is a true radical in the sense that she seeks to deal with root causes. She combines an unshakeable sense of mission with robust evidence and hard graft. In some ways, her best invention is that she knows that sometimes the answer is about applying common sense to systems and services that have become anything but. This requires Sue’s special type of leadership, gathering the different people and organisations needed to challenge how things are done and to show how they could be done better.”