Non-profit legal charity Affordable Justice is seeking funding of £205,000 for the construction of a two storey extension to its office accommodation at the Preston Road Women’s Centre in Hull. The investment is the direct result of an increasing demand for its family law service which is offered both locally in Hull through the women’s centre, and nationwide through online consultations.
Established in 2016 Affordable Justice has stripped out the profit element normally added by commercial legal firms, enabling them to charge less than a third of the usual cost. This makes their services more affordable for women who have been disproportionately affected by the cuts to legal aid which were implemented in 2013.
“The growth of Affordable Justice has demonstrated the inherent need across the UK for legal services based on our feminist framework,” said founder and director Lisa Hilder. “Locally we are finding increasing numbers of women accessing our services through the Women’s Centre, and despite holding more and more consultations online, we do not envisage these face-to-face meetings diminishing in any way.”
The funding is being secured in association with Preston Road Women’s Centre – also known locally as The Purple House. The Centre is recognized as a safe haven for women suffering from domestic abuse across the region. It incorporates a range of facilities and amenities that give these women a gentle focus for a visit which leaves no digital trace. These women can visit the charity shop, use the laundry, and find some respite by leaving their children at the nursery.
“As they become more familiar with the Centre and its facilities, they often find their way to our service where they can start to explore their legal options out of their current abusive situation,” continued Lisa Hilder. “Within our feminist framework, we are led by the women and what they want and feel comfortable with. Affordable Justice is not governed by generating profit. We are governed by operating within an integrated service model that puts the woman at the centre of everything we do. Our key driving forces are empowerment, self determination and sustainability, and adhering to these values has given thousands of women the space and courage to seek help.”
The working from home mandates of 2020 and the COVID pandemic meant that Affordable Justice was, in the same way as everyone else, forced to go online. This created a working business model that was replicable across the UK while still adhering to its core feminist values. This has inevitably put a strain on the resources back in Hull. The new office space is vital for back office administrative support as well as additional consultation rooms which can be used for both face-to-face and online meetings.
Chief executive for the Preston Road Women’s Centre, Ann Clarkson, has secured planning permission on the extension and is looking forward to brushing down her purple hard hat and high viz jacket, retained from the construction of the women’s centre – the first of its kind in the UK.
“Affordable Justice has been a key part of the so far 23 year journey that we have been following here at The Purple House,” commented Ann Clarkson. “This extension forms a natural next step in our overall growth. Unfortunately domestic abuse and its impact on women’s emotional and physical wellbeing is never going to go away, but our integrated model of services, of which Affordable Justice is a crucial element, allows women to envisage a different future devoid of the pain and fear of abuse. We welcome any individual or company who is interested in helping us to secure the funding so that we can start construction as soon as possible.”
Both Affordable Justice and Preston Road Women’s Centre honour their feminist roots by using the purple, green and white colours of the suffragette movement, and this is also becoming synonymous in the recognition of protecting the rights of women within a misogynistic family law system. Long term, Affordable Justice is seeking to strengthen its sustainable business model and influence systemic change in the way domestic abuse and childcare arrangements are processed through the family law courts.