Sue Bent, Chief Executive at Central England Law Centre
Inequality is systemic and we work for whole system change. We use the law to challenge and to disrupt. We hold ‘the system’ to account, but we know there are other ways of making change that can address systemic bias and stimulate cultural shift.
City of Culture 2021 puts communities at the heart of everything it does. It wants to use this unique opportunity to strengthen communities. We’re proud to be one of the hosts working with the Caring City Team, who are working to bring about social change through participation in, and engagement with cultural activity.
Can our work with the Caring Team be a catalyst for igniting the fire in the belly of our city in 2021? For developing new ways of working, tackling systemic issues and reimagining public services?
Can we bring our experience of working people in our city whose life is lived in poverty to imagine, collaborate, engage in dialogue that will inform a programme of cultural activities that drive change? Poverty extends beyond lack of funds – it is isolating, and it diminishes experience. Its impact over time is grinding and it reduces aspiration and confidence.
Can we create opportunities for Coventry 2021 to bring comfort (and joy and opportunity) to people whose lives are constrained by poverty?
Can we disturb those in our city (and the wider world) who don’t see injustice in their every-day experience? Those who are comfortable, or who are simply blind to the inequalities that exist within the systems that make up our society? Can we give a voice to those who experience poverty and inequality?
We think so.
This is a once in a generation opportunity and we will give it our best shot.
Central England Law Centre began as ‘Coventry Legal and Income Rights Trust’ in 1976. We were one of the first law centres in Britain, and we started our life in a house in Primrose Hill Street in Hillfields. We have a proud history of using the law to make change happen by using legal processes to fight poverty, inequality and discrimination.
- We advised campaigners against school closures in the city. One of our solicitors took instructions while suspended 50 feet in the air in a cherry picker.
- We argued that tenants of properties constructed of ‘no-fines’ concrete faced greater heat loss from their dwellings and those on benefits were awarded higher heating additions
- We provided advice on the picket lines to those involved in the miner’s dispute
- The High Court ruled in favour of our case against the government’s Universal Credit ‘managed migration regulations’. We argued they were unlawful on the basis that they discriminated against a group of severely disabled claimants.
"UK City of Culture 2021 is a unique opportunity to strengthen communities."