A GROUP that provides free housing law advice to people in need has secured its future.

A new solicitor has joined the Wiltshire Law Centre, meaning it can carry on offering vital support.

Ashley Brown has been appointed as a housing solicitor at the advice hub taking over when the existing solicitor retires.

“I’m very excited about getting started,” said Ashley.

“My first week has been really good. I’ve learn lots of new things and it’s been really enjoyable.”

Ashley, who was born and raised in Broad Green, previously studied at the University of Gloucestershire as well as the University of Law in Bristol.

The former Commonweal School student completed his training contract at Hine Solicitors in Swindon and Jeary & Lewis in Chippenham.

“It’s nice to be coming back to Swindon,” he added.

“I’m looking forward to trying to do my best to help the people of Swindon and the surrounding areas to get the legal advice they need.

“It’s so important that people know we’re here and about the services we offer.”

The Law Centre helped an estimated 2,500 people every year, mainly with telephone enquiries, as well as working on cases.

Ashley had originally planned to become criminal lawyer before taking up the public law post.

He said: “This meant doing a lot of legal aid cases as part of my training contract, so I got some experience of this kind of work.

“However, practicing as a criminal lawyer means that you work pretty onerous hours.

“So I was looking to do something where I could still help people but not have to work such long hours,” he added.

Based at Sanford House, the Law Centre offers free and confidential legal advice and representation in relation to housing law and tenancies, welfare benefits, employment and debt.

“It’s really important to me that I can assist people who need help,” Ashley added.

Until recently the Law Centre was facing an uncertain future, having struggled to appoint a replacement when Mr Hazell retired.

He was one of the original founding members 37 years ago.

“It’s really important that these centres stay open,” said Ashley.

“There are many people out there on benefits or low incomes who may find themselves in difficult situations with their tenancies or landlords, and who may not think they have any rights or a defence in the situation.

“So its really important people know we’re here to help them, because loosing your home obviously causes a big amount of upheaval and stress.”

Mr Hazell said: ‘I am really thrilled that Ashley has come to join us.”