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Issue:- 10 October 2013

Your vote can secure £3,000 for local children's charity

STICK 'n' Step, a children's charity based in the Wirral, has been shortlisted by Lloyds Bank for the chance to be awarded £3,000 from the Lloyds Community Fund 2013. The decision of which charities, across the UK, will receive the £3,000 grant for their area will be solely down to a public vote.

Stick 'n' Step was established in 2002 by a group of parents of children with cerebral palsy, who wanted to resolve the lack of support and development facilities available. The parents roped in the help of the whole community and together, they refurbished an empty space at St John's Parish Centre to create the first lowkey education centre. Nowadays, Stick 'n' Step resides in a purpose built educational centre based in Wallasey, furbished with specially designed equipment. It provides its service to over 70 children and their families from across the North West and North Wales.

There are 4 'local good causes' in Wirral hoping to receive the money assigned for this area, but the decision on who receives the grant fund will be solely down to a public vote. The 2 causes with the most votes in each local area will be awarded £3,000 each.

There are a small amount of conductive education centres in the UK but unlike many others, Stick 'n' Step prides itself on being able to provide this life-changing support service to children and their families for free. This would not be possible without the fundraising efforts of its community and big grant funds like this one.

Commented Sarah Smithson, Operations Manager at Stick 'n' Step:- "People often ask me, 'what do you do at Stick 'n' Step?' At Stick 'n' Step we teach children with cerebral palsy vital life skills, giving them more independence and freeing up a carer's time. Say for instance your arm doesn't move too well. Everyday tasks like putting on your school tie become less straightforward and your parent will normally have to do it for you. But when you still need your parents' help for tasks such as this aged 15, it can be pretty embarrassing! Doing a school tie, making a sandwich, or putting on your socks; we cover it all."

If successful, the £3,000 grant will allow Stick 'n' Step to create a mock-up home environment at the centre. The aim of this project is for the children to go about their everyday life, shadowed by the staff, to identify which areas they have most problems navigating. The staff will then teach them tips and tricks to ensure that they can still carry out the task themselves, regardless of each child's differing disability. This one off purchase of household goods will help all 70 children, aged 1 to 18 years, become more confident and independent.

Voting will take place from 9am on Monday, 23 September to 11.59pm on Friday, 1 November 2013, and is open to all of the UK public. You do not have to bank with Lloyds to cast a vote. There are 3 ways to vote; online, by txt or in person.

To vote for Stick 'n' Step, visit:-, or txt Stick 'n' Step's unique voting code:- "VOTE CPXD", to:- 61119, or simply register a paper vote in a ballot box at a Lloyds branch. Stick 'n' Step will be promoted at the Bebington, Birkenhead, Bromborough, Heswall, Liscard, Moreton, New Ferry, Prenton, West Kirby and Hoylake and Wirral Upton Lloyds branches.

For further information about Stick 'n' Step visit:- or alternatively contact the centre on:- 0151 6380888.

Law Society warns Justice Select Committee that criminal legal aid fee changes pose "significant risks"

ON 9 October 2013, the Law Society has warned the House of Commons Justice Select Committee about the damages that proposed changes to fees for criminal legal aid may cause. The Society has told MPs that the Ministry of Justice's proposed fee cuts pose a:- "significant risks" to the stability of the criminal justice system.

The warning comes in a draft iteration of the Society's response to the 'Transforming Legal Aid - Next Steps' consultation paper, which the Society has shared with the Justice Select Committee.

While noting that the Society and the Ministry are "in agreement over the proposed structure for procuring criminal legal aid in the future" the document makes clear that the Society "opposes planned fee cuts and reiterates warnings about the damage these may cause."

Law Society President Nicholas Fluck said:- "Following discussion between the MoJ and the Law Society over the summer, the Ministry put forward a fresh proposal for the tendering of criminal legal aid contracts on 5 September 2013. That revised model will see client choice retained, all firms able to undertake unlimited own-client work and duty solicitor contracts allocated according to capaCity and capability, not price and represents the best possible tendering structure for criminal legal aid. However, the fee changes proposed in the consultation are a cause for serious concern. Given the fragility of the legal aid market, starkly set out in evidence gathered by Otterburn Consulting for the Society as part of our response to the first consultation, a cut of 17.5% poses a significant risk to the future sustainability of the sector. Before taking the risk of proceeding with fee cuts, the Ministry must be very sure that the solicitors and their firms are on a robust enough financial footing to withstand this."

Explaining the Society's concerns about the proposed restructuring of fees, Nicholas Fluck added:- "We also set out in our draft response our concerns about the imposition of single national fixed fees and our deep unease at proposals to pay litigators the same fee whether or not a case goes to trial. The impact of a single national fixed fee will be vary considerably across different areas. This disparity; ranging from a small increase to a 47% cut; introduces new concerns about the viability of the cuts proposed, which will be even more acute in some areas than previous anticipated. Flat fees in the magistrates' court and the Crown Court - the same payment no matter whether the defendant pleads guilty, the trial cracks or there is a full trial - make us deeply uneasy. While solicitors will, of course, follow their professional obligation to ensure that a defendant is properly represented there is a serious risk that clients may ignore sensible advice is they perceive that it is being driven by financial considerations."

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