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Camden News - By RICHARD OSLEY
Published: 3 September 2009

Advice on all issues from family disputes to immigration

LAWYERS are to give free advice to children across Camden who ring up a special hotline asking for help with anything from family disputes to immigration applications.
In a national first, teenagers will be given speedy, confidential access to qualified solicitors by ringing a special number or emailing a team of legal experts with their problems.
Camden is one of just three areas in the country where the Lawyers For Young People (LFYP) service is being tried out and is aimed at making the daunting of task of speaking to a lawyer – frightening enough for adults – easier for youngsters.
Funded by the Children’s Society charity, its open-to-all approach has been likened to Childline, although organisers are keen not to be painted as legal agony aunts and uncles.
Instead of counsellors fielding calls, specially trained lawyers will be are gearing up to answer the phones.
The first calls are expected on Tuesday when the service goes live and the aim is to ensure that youngsters do not face delays or confusion when seeking advice on anything to do with the law.
In some incidents, children may be referred to lawyers to take on their casework although organisers stressed that the first task will be to see if representation is needed or not.
A network of firms including Fisher Meredith LLP and Bindmans, which is based in King’s Cross, have already said they will support the scheme.
Simone Surgenor, one of the solicitors working for the Children’s Society, said yesterday (Wednesday) that unlike Childline, the lawyers would have to take special caution when talking to under-12s who dial the hotline.
“We would never not take a call from someone who needed help but I think we’d have to be careful with children under the age of 12 or 13 because you have to be sure about the accuracy of the information.”
She said that in her own experience, very few children took cases against their own relatives. But Ms Surgenor added: “There may be issues in which young people feel isolated because of a problem at home and that might be the problem. This could be everything and anything, from housing to immigration. If they are having a problem at home, then they should be able to know their rights.”
Any child interested in speaking to the lawyers should call free on 0800 092 0953.
Phones during the trial will be answered between 10am and 12.30pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Calls can also be made between 3pm to 5pm on Wednesdays.
Email contact can be made through info@”

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