Coram Children’s Legal Centre celebrates 40 years supporting children and young people

Published: Tuesday 23rd November 2021

Coram has marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) with publication of a report setting out how CCLC has changed the legal landscape for hundreds of thousands of children and young people through legal advice, representation and information since it was established as the Children’s Legal Centre in 1981. 

An event held to mark the anniversary on Tuesday 23 November included contributions from The Rt Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division England and Wales, Chair of CCLC Trustees Her Honour Judge Celia Dawson, and Baroness Hale of Richmond, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom until 2020, as well as from some of the young people supported by CCLC. Guests were also able to enjoy a short film introducing CCLC and its work. 

Over its 40-year history, CCLC has dedicated itself to using the law to promote and uphold the rights of children. The free Child Law Advice Service, established in 1982, today answers legal queries from thousands of families every year, while its online legal information receives two million downloads annually. In 2011, the Children’s Legal Centre amalgamated with Coram to become Coram Children’s Legal Centre, and it has gone from strength to strength over the last decade. The Legal Practice Unit delivers specialist legal aid representation in family law, community care, education and immigration law whilst our Migrant Children’s Project delivers innovative early advice services including outreach in community settings, second tier advice to professionals working with migrant children and workshops co-delivered with young people.  Our international team has worked to promote child rights-related legal reforms in over 90 countries around the world.

CCLC also plays a prominent national role in advocating for policy change and children’s rights. CCLC was at the heart of the campaign earlier this year to ensure that eligible babies and children did not lose their legal rights as a result of the EU Settlement Scheme deadline, joined a landmark case earlier this year in the Supreme Court to champion the rights of children to seek redress for data breaches by organisations and companies mishandling their personal information, and is currently campaigning to highlight the threat to the rights of asylum seeking children in the Nationality and Borders Bill 2021, including the age assessment clauses.

Dr Carol Homden, Coram Group CEO, said: “Since its establishment in 1981, CCLC has had as its mission using the law to promote, protect and uphold the rights of children. Every year in the United Kingdom courts there are hundreds of thousands of cases involving children, whether through private family law disputes, immigration hearings, the criminal justice system, or through parents and carers trying to secure the rights of those with special education needs or disabilities. Pressures on courts and local authorities mean that thousands of children and young people face uncertainty and delays, and many more struggle to access free and early legal advice that could help them resolve issues before they reach the courts. Meanwhile, beyond our borders, children are subjected daily to violence or other forms of abuse, or denied access to education, health care or their other rights.

“Over its 40-year existence, CCLC has helped hundreds of thousands of children and young people to achieve justice. From humble beginnings, CCLC today is an award-winning independent children’s rights charity, providing free legal information, advice and representation to children, young people, families, carers and professionals who need it. Given rising need at a time of funding constraints, CCLC’s work has never been more needed, and as we celebrate 40 years of achievement we also commit to continuing to grow our services to help even more people in the years ahead.”

The report Coram Children’s Legal Centre: Celebrating 40 Years is available to read here.

You can watch a recording of the event on YouTube here