The Strategic Social Justice Clinic (SSJC) is a joint initiative between Central England Law Centre (CELC) and Warwick LinC. It specialises in using public law and other rights-based strategies to address systemic disadvantage and achieve effective change. Students work with the Public Law and Human Rights team at CELC on a variety of projects that CELC would be unable to pursue without our students’ support.

Working in small groups, student volunteers receive supervision, guidance and mentorship from Emma Austin, Solicitor and CELC's Rights in the Community Strategy Lead, alongside Rebecca Munro, Director of Warwick LinC.

Our projects are carefully selected to put legal learning into practice, find creative ways of using the law and develop leadership, communication and organisational skills in the social justice sector. Student volunteers are closely involved in devising and delivering project strategies, and not simply completing set tasks.

Strategic Social Justice Clinic Projects

December 2022: LinC's Strategic Social Justice Clinic has now published its report based on our 'Rights in Food Justice' project.

The report can be read here:

  Tackling Poverty to Achieve Food Justice: Contributions from the Advice Sector

The report explores the extent to which the provision of welfare rights and debt advice and information can alleviate the need for food bank use by helping those who are struggling to buy food to access and manage the state resources available to them. This has potentially significant implications for central and local government strategies for tackling household food insecurity. The report's findings and conclusions have relevance throughout the UK.

November 2022: LinC, working in partnership with Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, have published a report based upon the work undertaken by LinC's Strategic Public Law Clinic in 2019-20 and 2020-21:

The Right to Community Equivalent Healthcare in Immigration Removal Centres: A Public Law Analysis of Systemic Issues in the Inspection Regime.

Anyone who is detained by the state is entitled to receive health care which is equivalent in quality to that enjoyed in the wider community. For many years there has been a persistent and consistent concern about the quality of healthcare in immigration removal centres (IRCs), but the findings of statutory inspections have tended to find provision to be satisfactory.

This report asks whether there are systemic elements of the inspection scheme which inhibit its ability to apply the community equivalence principle. The report makes comparisons between the scheme used by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to quality assess community healthcare provision and that adopted to respond to the overlapping responsibilities of the CQC and His Majesty Inspectorate of Prisons for inspecting healthcare in IRCs. Its recommendations call for fundamental reform not only to operational processes for gathering and analysing evidence, but also to the underpinning regulations which currently prevent the CQC from applying a ‘community equivalent’ approach.

2022-23 Strategic Social Justice Clinic Projects

Supporting care leavers to access their rights

Most of us expect to continue to receive the support of our family far beyond the date on which we reach the age where, legally, we will be treated as adults. Young people who have been in the ‘care’ of the local social services authority often have a very different experience.

In January 2022 Ofsted published findings from an online survey of young people in care and care leavers to explore whether the help they got when getting ready to leave care was what they needed, and how involved they were in the decisions made about their future. Ofsted found that more than a third of care leavers felt that they left care too early, often because the move out of care happened abruptly and they were not ready for all the sudden changes. Of those who did feel that they left care at the right time, not all felt they had the required skills to live more independently. Many care leavers reported that they were not taught essential skills, such as how to shop, cook or manage money.

Two of the key rights that care leavers have is to a ‘pathway plan’ based on an assessment of their individual needs and to a ‘Personal Adviser’, appointed by the local social services authority, who supports them, potentially until they are 25. There are regulations and guidance setting out how this should work in practice. One of the recommendations made by Ofsted in response to their findings was that care leavers should know what they are legally entitled to and helped to access support after they leave care.

Project aims

The aim of this SSJC project is to develop a tool which will help local organisations who are in contact with care leavers to identify whether they have the benefit of the planning and support they are entitled to and to help them access legal advice when needed.

Student feedback (2021-22 Projects):

  • "I have developed my research skills, improved my scheduling and organisation, and developed my knowledge of the wider context surrounding public law."
  • "Working within a small group as well as the larger project group, has helped me to improve my communication and teamwork skills. I have also developed my presentation, analysis and critical thinking skills. I have developed new skills, working on things that I have not done before, e.g. transcription and interviewing."
  • "I think one of the core successes of the project was that it offered lots of insight into how public law works in practice, and how public law practitioners go about their work."
  • "I'd like to thank the staff at CELC and the University who organised and facilitated the project - there was clearly a great deal of work and passion going into the project, against what were still inclement circumstances this year. Thank you for supporting us and offering us the opportunities to participate."

Strategic Social Justice Clinic Internships

Each year we aim to offer paid internship positions over the summer break for interns to gain a more intensive, in-depth experience working on SSJC projects and ensure the valuable work of the clinic is able to continue all year round. Internships this year will be supported by the generous donations of alumni, donors and supporters of the University via the Warwick Innovation Fund. Visit this page for information on current opportunities and volunteering vacancies.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with an expert in the field, who has significant experience of delivering these kind of projects and really knew their stuff. I learned a lot by working in collaboration with them, and watching the project take shape under their guidance. I was also very pleased to have been able to contribute to such an impactful and significant project over the course of the internship. Finally, I found meeting the staff at the law centre, and the opportunity to gain insight into the kinds of work that they do incredibly valuable.

Summer 2022 Intern

My internship has provided an invaluable opportunity to improve my legal and professional skills massively. I can now synthesise and structure large volumes of material quickly and easily, something that would have shell-shocked me before. I’ve learnt to solve problems in practice, prioritise and mange tasks and to express myself more concisely in written communication.

Summer 2020 Intern