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From classroom to courtroom: UEL law students join office of Stephen Timms MP to support residents

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As Newham residents struggled, four young UEL law students answered their call for help

As Covid gripped the country, East London suffered.

A region that is home to many from low socio-economic backgrounds has felt the full force of Covid-19. People have struggled to make ends meet and, sadly, some have fallen into situations requiring legal support they simply cannot afford.

Step in four students from the University of East London (UEL) department of law, justice and policing – Mark Fallon, Oluwabunmi Otunuga, Patricia McKenzie and Faridah Adeyemo – who have been working in the office of East Ham MP, Stephen Timms.

Many local residents turned to their local MP for help and as the caseload grew, the opportunity to deal with real cases, hands-on, arose.

Mark has worked, successfully, on resolving an asylum support case, which would otherwise not have received the same level of interest and is now working on a housing issue. Oluwabunmi is engaged in a long-running parking dispute, saving money, and long-standing anguish, for a local resident.

“They are genuinely knowledgeable, and are very engaged with it,” said Stephen Timms, “and they are directly helping members of a community which otherwise couldn’t afford legal help.

“Above and beyond that, they are giving people time, which is invaluable.”

“Young people with energy, compassion and an ambition to serve are a pleasure to work alongside, and I know, from the direct feedback I’ve heard, that they have been integral to their community in the past few months.”

The University has a proud history of producing staff and students who go on to serve in a variety of high-profiles roles, with one of the law department’s most high-profile alumnus, Imran Khan QC, drawing global praise for his work on the Stephen Lawrence case.

And, in February, business graduate Talal Rafi was appointed as a climate ambassador for his home country of Sri Lanka, having previously helped formulate recommendations for G7 and G20 leaders on gender equality in a post-Covid world.

“We produce graduates who are fully equipped to make a difference in their line of work when they leave the University, and our current students who’ve been supporting Stephen are ahead of the curve,” said dean of the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, Professor Mohammad Ali.

“Their work is a continuation of the efforts of our Legal Advice Centre, which continues to remain open and available to the public.

“Over the course of the pandemic, the LAC has looked into, to date, 44 matters with a number of those escalated to third parties.

“All of this support is available for free, giving our students a unique opportunity to put their skills into practice, and members of our community to benefit – whom we are proud to serve.”