A CHARITY which offers free legal advice has secured its future after landing a contract worth around £1 million over the next three years.

The Wiltshire Law Centre, based in Temple House, Commercial Road, has been providing free legal advice on debt, welfare benefits and housing to vulnerable and disadvantaged people and those on low incomes for 30 years in Swindon and the surrounding areas.

After applying to the Legal Services Commission (LSC), the Government agency which manages the funding for Legal Aid in England and Wales, the charity were awarded a contract worth £380,000 a year for three years to continue their specialist service.

The contract, which is due to start in mid-October, has meant the charity can take on two more caseworkers.

Neil Baker, business and finance manager at the Wiltshire Law Centre, said: “It’s fantastic news for us and it means we will have much more capacity to see people once the new staff start in October.

“If we had not been successful in this bid the Law Centre would have been looking at closure at the end of the year. We have some small grants from other organisations but the main block is effectively government funded.

“There is a huge demand for the service and it’s vital for the people of Swindon and the surrounding area who are on low incomes who would not have anywhere else to go. We are a specialist service and can represent people in civil court, including people who might be facing eviction or housing repossessions.”

In October the centre will have nine caseworkers, including one solicitor and one barrister, specialising in all areas of social welfare law.

And a deal with a London firm of solicitors will see a community care specialist be available to provide free advice at the centre once a week.

Mr Baker said: “The centre will be a one-stop shop, so a person who has issues with elderly parents who need to be in care and may be struggling with their marriage or benefits can come to us and get all their problems resolved. That’s what makes it a unique service.”