Fellows: Erin Stanbury and Shannon Thompson

Shelter – Manchester

A home is a fundamental human need, as essential as education or healthcare. Yet millions of people’s lives across the country are blighted by homelessness, soaring rents, deplorable conditions, discrimination and the threat of eviction.

Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home. Each year through our expert advice and support services, we help millions of people struggling with bad housing or homelessness – and we campaign to prevent it in the first place. We’re here so no one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own.

Through our helpline, online services and network of local hubs, we provide expert information, advice and support to people in housing crisis. Alongside this, we are committed to tackling the root causes of the current housing emergency. We do this through our wider campaigning and policy work which is always informed by the experiences we’re seeing on the frontline.

Our legal team has over 100 staff members, including 45 solicitors. We deliver the highest quality housing advice and litigation services from our network of 12 offices across England.

We work closely with other teams in Shelter’s services, taking referrals of complex and certificated cases to ensure that Shelter can provide an end-to-end service to its clients. The work of Shelter’s solicitors is predominantly funded by legal aid but offers CFA/DBA where appropriate. The service conducts certificated litigation work, controlled work and Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes. In addition to supporting individual clients, we also provide digital advice and training to other solicitors and advice agencies as well as supporting the organisational priorities of policy and campaigning on social welfare law and access to justice issues.

We have a national reputation for excellence in housing law and a long history of seeking to assist the development of English law in the field of homelessness and issues of inadequate housing through litigation. We use the law to solve people’s problems and test the limits of the law. We want to be able to offer all Shelter clients a complete advice and advocacy service and to fill gaps in existing legal services. In the challenging current environment, offering legal solutions to enable people to access, keep and improve their homes whilst maintaining cost effectiveness requires innovation, imagination and high calibre financial and problem-solving skills.

The Strategic Legal Team (SLT) is a small team within Shelter Legal Services. The SLT has until recently been based in London but has now started to employ solicitors in Shelter’s advice centres around the country. This role would be based in Shelter Manchester, sitting with the legal and advice team in Manchester. The embedding of the SLT in our advice centres gives them good insight into housing issues across the country. The SLT engages in strategic litigation on a national level concerning homelessness and bad housing and is also a resource for Shelter solicitors across the country to assist them in engaging the law strategically on a local level.

The legal team in the Manchester office have a legal aid contract to deliver three court duty housing possession schemes to represent people facing eviction from their homes. In addition, they represent clients under legal aid in many areas including challenging negative homelessness decisions, representing clients in court in defending possession proceedings and bringing claims for unlawful eviction.

For further information, visit our website.

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