UWE Students get in the swim with legal advice

Issue date: 22 September 2011

Swimming pool

A group of Legal Practice Students from Bristol Institute of Legal Practice, at the University of the West of England, have used their skills to help residents from Wotton-Under-Edge in Gloucestershire to take over the running of their local swimming pool when the council decided they needed to close it.

In the Pro Bono project UWE students supported a group of community volunteers who needed help with the legal aspects of the project. The students provided legal advice between November and July, set up a company and advised on governance issues. They also registered the company as a charity and advised on associated issues as well as dealing with the lease and service level agreement with the council.

The project is now up and running successfully. It is well known and used in Wotton and surrounding areas and is a valuable resource for the local community.

Cathy Biggs (Bristol Institute of Legal Practice, UWE) said, “Our students made a significant contribution both in terms of time and energy and provided much-needed legal expertise to the clients. It is a really good example of the way students can get involved in the local community and use their skills to help others, but also learn a great deal in the process. Both the students and the local volunteers have greatly benefited from the experience. This is just one of a number of Pro Bono projects that our students are involved in, using their skills and time to help out in the local community.”

Heather Shere-Massey, the student who led the team who worked on the project said, “It was a very satisfying experience and a chance to apply all the learning we were doing on the course to a real life situation. We all benefited from the experience of working with people as clients. It was a challenge and I enjoyed the opportunity to do work related to a charity, as this was a new area for me. All in all it was a valuable learning experience that complemented our academic studies.”

Alan George (Wotton under Edge Swimming Pool Ltd) said, “The pool has been running very successfully through the summer, and to start with it was a bit hectic, but everything is now going really well. The contribution UWE students made to our set up was important and very much appreciated. As well as being incorporated we are now a fully fledged charity, so their help has been invaluable. Legal fees can be very expensive so the students' help in this area was a considerable cost saving for us and helped to make the project viable.”

The six students involved in the project were all doing the Legal Practice Course full–time at BILP, UWE during 2010/11.


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