Introducing Erika

Not-for-profit legal service expands to support more vulnerable women

Hull’s award-winning not-for-profit legal service, Affordable Justice, is expanding its team this Christmas to increase their support to vulnerable women and children.

The first legal firm of its kind in the country, Affordable Justice was launched in February this year as a response to the drastic cuts to Legal Aid that took place in 2013.  It is based at the Preston Road Women’s Centre in Hull and offers family law legal services and representation, supporting women to escape from violent and abusive relationships, and allowing them to rebuild their lives.  Many women are referred to Affordable Justice by domestic violence agencies across the city.

Joining the team will be Erika Williman, a solicitor with over twenty years’ experience. Erika has worked throughout Yorkshire and will be providing services relating to divorce, finances and the consequences of relationship breakdown. She was a member of the Women’s Aid management committee in York for several years and has worked with survivors of abuse throughout her career.

Sue Sedgwick is the lead solicitor for Affordable Justice and is delighted that Erika is joining the service: “We have had some excellent outcomes for women and children in our first 10 months, and demand is increasing, so it is fantastic that Erika is joining us and we can expand our services to help more women.  Affordable Justice can now offer advice, assistance and representation on all family law matters including domestic abuse, children issues, divorce and separation and financial matters.”

Erika is excited about her new role:  “I am looking forward to developing further the services offered via Affordable Justice, given the savage cuts to Legal Aid which has resulted in unfair outcomes for individuals. I firmly believe that in a democratic society that everyone regardless of income should have equal access to the legal system. I am delighted to be part of the country’s first not-for-profit law firm and the ethical stance it represents.”

In October, Affordable Justice won the Start-Up of the Year category in the Social Enterprise Yorkshire & Humber (SEYH) awards.  The awards were presented at the SEYH gala dinner in Leeds.

Erika’s appointment coincides with an awareness campaign about Affordable Justice running on local buses over Christmas and the new year. “Sadly we know that the pressures of Christmas are often a trigger for relationship breakdowns, and can exacerbate domestic violence” says Sue.  “We want to make sure that women know that they can turn to us if they need legal help to get out of dangerous or difficult relationships without racking up huge legal bills.  Typical costs for legal representation in family law proceedings can average £1600 but we offer an hourly rate that is a third of high street solicitors’, and is in some cases lower than public funding rates, bringing the average cost of proceedings to around £500.”

About the author: Lisa Hilder