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Our history

South Westminster Legal Advice Centre was set up in 1998, as there was a pressing need for free, expert legal advice to be available for those who would not otherwise have the means to pay for it. We began as a charitable trust, operating from shop premises at the Victoria end of Vauxhall Bridge Road.

From a standing start, the number of clients seen by SWLAC advisers grew to more than 2,000 per year, and the main constraints suffered were that the premises were too small, and that we were always hungry for more advisers. On 31 December 2018, South Westminster Legal Advice Centre became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (“CIO”), and is registered with Charity Commission with registered number 1180716.

In March 2020. the premises in Vauxhall Bridge Road were required for re-development; after a hiatus caused by the pandemic, the CIO moved to The Abbey Centre, 34 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BU, just a stone’s throw from Westminster Abbey.

We have changed how we work

Our enforced closure during the Covid-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to review and update how we operate, in order to safeguard both clients and volunteers, and to continue to provide a service of quality, positioned for the future.

In particular, we are re-inventing ourselves to take account of the changed circumstances of both clients and volunteers: by pre-arrangement, some of our client consultations can now be “virtual”. Our drop-in service is mainly an appointment-only service, though we keep a few slots for those who do not have a smart phone or internet access.