Disability Law Service is a unique charity that has been providing free legal advice and representation for disabled people since 1975. In fulfilling our purpose, fighting injustice for disabled people, we work to challenge the poverty and inequality faced by those with disabilities by securing for them access to justice and to their legal rights.
All the people that DLS helps are disabled people, or family members or carers who contact us on the disabled person’s behalf. They have a variety of impairments or long term limiting health conditions. Many have hidden disabilities such as epilepsy, diabetes, autistic spectrum disorder or mental health problems, which can make daily life, employment and accessing services particularly difficult.
Whether by helpful advice over the phone, the provision of online fact-sheets or full representation at tribunal, we provide a vital service to some 4,000 people each year, many of whom are in distress as a result of discrimination or improper care.
We provide a full service of advice and representation for employment (including disability discrimination) and community care. We also maintain online resources and factsheets in these areas as well as in relation to Welfare Benefits, Goods and Services discrimination and Higher Education.
Why We Are Needed
People with disabilities have found it increasingly difficult to gain access to the law:
- In 2009/10 around 75,000 people with disabilities required assistance under legal aid for welfare benefits tribunal appeals. The government removed this area of law from the scope of legal aid in 2012. The tribunal service has since reported that in the period of 2013-14 there was a 71% drop in the appeals received in welfare benefits.
- According to a TUC report in July 2014, there was a 46% drop in disability discrimination claims before Employment Tribunals after the introduction of costs for such Tribunals.
The level of need is also highlighted by DLS’ own figures, which show 3,000 – 4,000 phone calls received on our system each quarter but with capacity, on average, to offer active support in approximately 1 in 4 of the cases.
How You Can Help
Whether by volunteering or donating, or by persuading your company that training by DLS is important, you can make a vital contribution to our work.
When it comes to legal advice, many may expect that a donation will not go far. But we are structured to ensure efficiency such that £5 will enable a disabled person to get initial advice to assist them with obtaining access to the law and their rights. As a charity where 97.2% of donations go directly into providing services to disabled people, donors can be sure that their money will be put to valuable use.