York students pilot free letter-writing scheme

College of Law students from York are running free letter-writing clinics in Doncaster as part of a legal literacy scheme to help members of the public get to grips with their rights.

The project, which is part of a £54,000 New Deal for Communities (NDC) initiative, will see law students advising local people on a range of everyday rights and problems connected with regeneration.

Steve Levett, the college&#39s Streetlaw Plus project coordinator, said he hoped to encourage more students to set up stalls in community centres, public libraries or supermarkets.

He said: “NDC residents who struggle to articulate themselves in writing can then explain what their problem is and the students will set it out in a way that&#39s clear and coherent. Once the client&#39s happy that the letter accurately reflects their worries, the letter will be checked by a supervisor and then sent back to the client. All the client has to do is sign it and put a stamp on the envelope.”

In carrying out the project, students will have the opportunity to practise essential legal skills, such as interviewing and drafting documents in an easily understandable form.

&#39NDC residents can explain what their problem is and the students will set it out in a way that&#39s clear&#39 – Steve Levett, College of Law

Professor Richard Grimes, the college&#39s director of clinical education, said: “Everyone should benefit. The NDC programme will introduce a novel, and, we expect, highly effective concept that ought to increase the capacity of the community to recognise and address many of the problems it faces.”

If the initial six-week pilot period is successful, the scheme may be rolled out at College of Law branches across the country.