Focused on empowering the economically disadvantaged, the Sunshine Coast’s Community Resource Centre has announced the launch of its Community Legal Advocacy program.
Funded by the Law Foundation of BC, the mandate of the Advocacy program is to provide free legal assistance, guidance and, where possible, representation to residents of the Sunshine Coast who lack the financial resources to obtain legal advice through traditional means. The service is focused on areas such as residential tenancy, welfare, disability issues, human rights issues, employment problems and other areas where alternative dispute resolution is the preferred solution to the courts.
Cheryl McNicol, the Community Resource Centre’s executive director, has been working with the Law Foundation of BC since the summer of 2018 to launch this new service on the Coast and describes it as an enhancement of services already offered by the Resource Centre.
“The Resource Centre has had a referral program through the Legal Services Society for the past eight years. During this time, for more complex legal issues, our staff had to refer clients to agencies in Vancouver for advocacy support. Now we can provide this service locally,” she said.
The Law Foundation of BC, she added, had identified a critical need for a legal advocacy project on the Coast based on its growing population and problems related to affordable housing, welfare, employment and disability-related issues.
The Resource Centre has recruited Ken Carson as its Community Legal Advocate. Carson has worked for over two decades in areas relevant to legal advocacy including human rights, employment law and Indigenous relations.
“Too often people feel overwhelmed, disempowered and intimidated by the legal system and government legislation, rules and procedures. The Legal Advocacy project will work with clients to help them in navigating these complex systems and ensure their voices are heard,” Carson said.
The Community Legal Advocacy program works under the supervision of Sechelt barrister Darcy Lawrence who will provide legal oversight for the project as well as legal advice to the Advocate when needed. Lawrence has been a lawyer on the Sunshine Coast for more than 20 years.
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