The Trust helped Free Legal Advice Group for Domestic Violence (FLAG-DV) during it's critical infancy

FLAG-DV logoDomestic Abuse is something that most of us don’t want to think about but it is known from the Crime Survey for England and Wales that there are at least 6,000 West Berkshire victims of domestic violence or abuse each year and that at least 5 people a month require emergency orders from the Courts to keep them, their children, or their property safe.   Victims are often unsure of where to access support and of the costs involved.  It was for these reasons that Free Legal Advice Group for Domestic Violence (FLAG-DV) was established in October 2012.  After a year of fundraising, planning, filling in application forms and lots of hard work FLAG-DV became a registered charity in October 2013.

Launch of FLAG-DV with The High Sheriff of BerkshireTheir initial aims were to be able to provide a free fortnightly legal advice surgery in Newbury for victims of domestic violence and abuse.  This would be run by trained solicitors who give their time for free and would serve clients mainly from West Berkshire.

Charities often find it difficult to access support and funding when they are in their infancy and not yet registered.    Helen Grimbleby, Chair of Trustees of FLAG-DV expressed her gratitude to Greenham Trust for its support during this critical make or break time.  The ability to submit an application to findmeagrant (now The Good Exchange)) for funding and the automatic access to multiple grant makers using the findmeagrant portal proved very successful for the organisation.  They were awarded a £3,750 Trust Reactive Grant in May 2013 and £400 by the Youth Distribution Committee in March 2014 – something that came as a surprise and made a big difference to their appeal.   This core funding enabled the group to set up a free fortnightly clinic in Newbury.

 Newbury Legal Walk 2013With ever increasing demands being made of it,  the group have continued to raise funds and awareness of their cause.  Many supporters took part in the Newbury Legal Walk in 2013 and will get their walking boots on again this year as part of the Reading Legal Walk.  FLAG-DV have partnered with London Legal Support Trust to organise this great fundraising event.  If you are interested in taking part you don’t need to get sponsorship, just make a donation and join in.

With the need for free legal advice for domestic abuse victims proven and a waiting list of clients referred by established social services, the next goal has been to increase the number of clinics on offer.  The initial success of the charity has enabled them to access support from other areas.  They are delighted to be able to use shared secure serviced office facilities at the Trust’s one-stop-shop for counselling services in Newbury, Broadway House, as their base and as a result of a £2000 GCT Reactive Grant in May 2014 FLAG-DV can now offer 5 appointments at the legal surgery every fortnight.  A volunteer analyst working with the group collects information on the quality of the service, feedback and areas for improvement.

To find out more about the work they do or to take part in the 10k Reading Legal Walk on 22nd September in aid of free legal advice charities in Reading and the Thames Valley visit their website