About the charity
Living Without Abuse (“LWA”) believes that all people have the right to live safely and without the fear of violence and abuse. LWA provides support to men and women experiencing, or fearing, violence and abuse from a partner, ex-partner, or a family member.
LWA is committed to raising awareness about domestic abuse, working towards its prevention and eradication, and assisting those affected by abuse to determine their own lives. It provides an outreach support service to adults based in North West Leicestershire and Rutland, an independent domestic violence advisory service in Rutland for people who are assessed as being at high risk from domestic abuse, and also a Children and Family Support Service in Leicester City.
Due to cuts in funding, LWA wanted to form a consortium with two other charities to bid for a large tender put out by their local councils for domestic and sexual violence services. All of the charities in the consortium were providers of domestic and sexual violence support services but none of the organisations were large enough to bid for the tender alone.
The charities were very keen to work together, however, LWA wanted to be sure that they were all equal partners with their own legal identities. LWA was unsure how to go about this.
LWA applied to LawWorks seeking advice about how to form the consortium and for assistance with drafting the necessary documents to formalise the arrangements and protect LWA’s interests.
LawWorks assessed LWA’s online application and liaised with the charity to determine its eligibility for the project. It also worked with LWA to gather relevant information and documents to be able to brief potential volunteer lawyers.
The pro bono opportunity was taken on through LawWorks by Abigail Dean and Russell Jacobs from law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP (“Milbank”). The volunteers were keen to lend their corporate expertise to an issue they care a great deal about.
Milbank advised on the formation of the joint venture and helped with the subsequent drafting of relevant documents, such as the joint venture’s articles. LWA said the volunteer lawyers were “brilliant” – they were quick to respond, very receptive and easy to communicate with. LWA felt Abigail and Russell had a good understanding of what it wanted to achieve and consulted the charity every step of the way.
The joint venture was successfully incorporated as United Against Violence and Abuse (“UAVA”) and the consortium won the major domestic services tender in the Leicestershire area – a fantastic result for everyone.
Overall, the charities and the people they help have really benefited from the advice.
For LWA the consortium has allowed it to retain its own identity while participating in a new co-operative entity, giving it the flexibility to retain current funding, secure new funding, and, crucially, continue its vital support services to those in need.
For the sector more widely, LWA said that the new consortium puts all of the organisations on a “firmer footing for the future” and that it is reassuring to know they can all now work together to bid for funding and share best practice – something which has led to a better and more cohesive working environment, and most importantly, the charities being able to help a greater number of people in the area.
Milbank volunteers said their highlights from working on the pro bono matter included a “real buzz of hearing that the charities had won the tenders” and “satisfaction in finding United Against Violence and Abuse listed on the Companies House website”.
LWA approached LawWorks because it did not have sufficient funds allocated to pay for legal advice. Like many applicants to the Not-For-Profits Programme, it is a small charity and most of its funding is restricted. LWA said that it simply would not have had access to advice otherwise and that it was likely that the charity would have been forced to wind up had it not received the advice.
LWA found LawWorks responsive and the application process easy.
Milbank commented that “LawWorks is incredibly effective at linking up law firms with not-for-profit organisations”. It also appreciated the opportunity to analyse a matter before committing to taking it on, as well as having a constant source of pro bono clients to assist. The firm considers it a real chance to help the community: “LawWorks allows lawyers to take on matters where they can make a more immediate and significant difference”.