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Lift off for Let Us Learn campaign


Let Us Learn’s #younggiftedandblocked campaigners are taking inspiration from the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, which tells the story of the forgotten African-American mathematicians and scientists who played a pivotal role in the US Apollo space programme.

The three women featured in the film faced significant barriers to being able to achieve their ambitions, despite their great determination, hard work and talent.

A group of Let Us Learn campaigners who are facing barriers of their own were lucky enough to attend a preview of the film, where they met leading women scientists including space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, EDF Energy’s Dr Christine Waata, and the UK Space Agency’s Kathie Bowden.


After seeing the film, Let Us Learner Agnes Harding said: “I cried. I laughed and I gasped. Not only did I get to watch this epic tale of three of the most inspiring women in science, I got to meet a few, too. These women have shown us that being a black woman in the white man’s world that is STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] isn’t impossible. A challenge maybe, but a challenge we can overcome. I cannot express how truly inspired I am at this moment. So I say, let’s do this!”

Agnes is one of hundreds of young people involved in Let Us Learn who have been unable to take up university places because they are not recognised as home students, despite living in the UK most of their lives. As a result, they are ineligible for student loans and can be charged international fees by universities, which can be up to three times higher than the £9,000 a year paid by home students.

Agnes achieved three grade As in her A-levels in maths, chemistry and physics. It is her ambition to be a scientific researcher and go into space, but she has been unable to take up her place to study physics at Manchester University. (Read Agnes’ story here.)

Her school friend, Sabrina, also has a strong interest in science. She wants to be a forensic scientist but has been unable to take up her place to study chemistry at Queen Mary for lack of funding.

Last year, Let Us Learn launched its Young, Gifted and Blocked campaign, calling on universities to create scholarships to allow students in this situation to continue their studies.

Mistura is one Let Us Learner who has already benefited from this kind of dedicated funding. Despite being rejected for a student loan, Mistura is now in her second year at Manchester University studying chemical engineering, thanks to a bursary from the Tiko Foundation. She is looking forward to an internship working in the oil industry.

Following the campaign, a growing number of universities are now offering scholarships. These include Kings College London, SOAS, UCL and Sussex University. But Let Us Learn is urging others to follow suit.

Let Us Learn campaigner and wannabe astronaut, Agnes Harding, was left fired up after seeing Hidden Figures

Last Thursday Let Us Learn was fortunate enough to be given tickets to attend a private screening of Hidden Figures. Hearing of this opportunity the night before, I practically leaped out of my seat with glee. I’d been waiting to see this film since September when I first came across it on I could hardly sleep that night out of sheer excitement and anticipation. It was finally happening.

My excitement was for one reason. I want to be an astronaut. Only recently have I been able to admit to people that this is what I want to do in the future. It’s not actually as crazy as it sounds (something I’ve had to tell myself time and time again), as I’ve always been good at science and am quite the daredevil. I’ve always worked hard at school, because education is one thing I could always control and found refuge in, which meant that I finished my A-levels last summer with straight As in chemistry, physics and maths. I was even offered a place at Manchester University to study physics – a leading institution in the subject with such history in the field of science, which is the reason I fell in love with it in the first place. Learning last year that I couldn’t take up my place that September, devastated me. Although I’ve lived in this country since I was 4 years old, I’m ineligible for a student loan, which means that my dream of going to university with my friends and studying the subject I so love, has been put out of my reach for now.


Despite this setback, my passion for all things space has not been dulled, so I was very, VERY excited to see this long-awaited film.

The journey into central London that morning from my home in zone 5, for the screening, seemed to last for hours. As I walked in to the cinema, NASA top on and popcorn in hand, I could see the movie posters and cutouts in the distance. One of the other Let Us Learn campaigners, Lizzie, had to calm me down before I got too excited. When we walked in, the first thing I saw was the astronaut suit on the chair. A real-life astronaut suit! Right there in front of me. The day was already much better than I was expecting.

We finally got into the movie theatre and for the next two hours I was absolutely captivated. I cried, I laughed and I gasped. Seeing the lengths Mary Jackson went to be able to attend college to become an engineer really resonated with me. Because, just as she was not scared to fight the power and make a change, I have joined the fight with Let Us Learn to do the same and make a way for anyone who wants to attend university and reach their potential to have the opportunity to do so.

Not only did I get to watch this epic tale of three of the most inspiring women in science, I also got to meet a few in person, too. After the film, there was a Q&A with a panel of female scientists who are leaders in their fields, including Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Dr Christine Waata. Hearing them speak, I was hanging on their every word. They were where I saw myself in the future: successful, strong and making a difference. As an aspiring astronaut, listening to them taught me that my dream could one day become a reality.

I was heartbroken when I wasn’t able to go tostudy at Manchester last September, and currently have no concrete solution in sight. However, I have not given up hope. One reason is because of all of the amazing people I have met through the Let Us Learn campaign, who are in similar situations to me. We keep each other going despite the challenges and uncertainty we may face. Since joining the campaign last year, I have been part of the team going into schools and colleges, spreading awareness of this issue. I have also been involved in the universities campaign, which is helping set up scholarships at various universities; and much, much more that I’m proud to have helped achieve. We are already making a difference, with a number of universities recognising our situation and taking steps to introduce special funding schemes. Manchester, unfortunately, not being one of them as of yet.

The women whose stories feature in Hidden Figures,  have shown us that being a black woman in the white man’s world that is STEM, isn’t impossible. A challenge, maybe, but a challenge we CAN overcome. I cannot express how truly inspired I am at this moment. So I say, let’s do this! #StillHiddenFigures


I, Daniel Blake may be fiction, but it was all too familiar to me, says Just for Kids Law youth advocate Rosie Eatwell-White

“Grim,” my sister had warned me. “Grim, grim, grim.” “It’s so sad,” a friend reported. “Take hankies.” I finally plucked up the courage to see the new Ken Loach film, I, Daniel Blake. Yes, the film is grim and intensely sad, as well as touching and humorous, but it all felt so depressingly familiar that it somehow lacked the shock factor that others have felt. The stories it told reflected the experiences of so many of the young people I work with at Just for Kids Law, whose youth and inexperience, if anything, makes them even more vulnerable than the characters in the film.

So I was surprised to read after seeing it that some commentators have criticised it for being unrealistic and have claimed that “several aspects… don’t ring true”. I felt that the film was very realistic and, at each stage, I can think of examples of young clients we have supported who have faced the same or similar difficulties as those in the film.

Take the main character’s application for Employment and Support Allowance, for example, and his interaction with the Department for Work and Pensions. The film shows Daniel Blake attempting to steer through a Kafkaesque system of phone calls, forms and appointments, perfectly capturing the frustration our clients feel when they try to apply for benefits. For example, I regularly make calls to the DWP with Thomas, 20, who suffers from anxiety and depression and who receives ESA. Thomas needs my support to communicate his views and feelings, as he can get very agitated on the phone as a result of his anxiety. Every time we call the helpline, we wait for at least half an hour before someone answers, raising Thomas’s anxiety levels considerably. When we do speak to someone, Thomas has more than once been given conflicting information, leaving him confused and upset.  Once, two weeks passed with Thomas not receiving any money at all because he was told he had to wait for a call, only for us to eventually ring back to be told that this information was incorrect and he had to do something different. This is Thomas’s main interaction with the state and it leaves him feeling angry, mistrusting and neglected.

Commentators have claimed that the film is over-the-top in some of the severe levels of misery it portrays. But again, at Just for Kids we have numerous examples of the extreme difficulties clients face as a result of failings in the benefits system, such as Maxine. When Maxine was a child she was physically and emotionally abused by her mother. She is now 21 and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of years of abuse. Her PTSD manifests itself in severe anxiety and depression, and regular panic attacks, fainting and incontinence. Maxine is socially isolated and during her depressive phases she is unable to leave her room for several weeks at a time. She receives ESA and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). When I started working with Maxine, her ESA had suddenly been stopped without warning. When I called the DWP on her behalf to ask what had happened, I was told that her account had been closed and she needed to make a fresh application. When I asked why, I was told I’d get a call back from the benefits centre who could explain – I never did.

Maxine duly put in a fresh claim, which took weeks to be processed. During that time, Maxine slowly ran out of money. Her condition means that she needs to buy incontinence pads (not available on the NHS) and take minicabs to her mental health appointments, as she finds public transport so overwhelming. She also goes through depressive phases where she binge eats to try and deaden some of the intense emotional pain she is feeling. These effects of her condition come with a financial cost. Without her ESA payment coming in, her money ran out and her anxiety rose. She told me she felt panicked and frightened. She had no money for food and her incontinence pads were running out. I made several calls to the DWP on her behalf to try and hurry the process, but to no avail. In the end, Just for Kids Law had to provide foodbank vouchers and I applied for an emergency crisis loan from the local borough, who thankfully provided a one-off payment. A week later, Maxine’s ESA came through. It took several more phone calls to get an answer on why her claim had been stopped: a form hadn’t been returned to the DWP – as it turned out, it had been sent to the wrong address.

There are numerous other examples from Ken Loach’s film which ring true for anyone working in this field, from the insecure minimum wage work young people have to resort to, to the long months some homeless clients spend in cramped B&B accommodation.

The clients I have described are young and they are vulnerable. Many have little or no family support and a background of disadvantage, often compounded by mental health difficulties. They are then expected to navigate a system which leaves even experienced, educated professionals like me and my colleagues confused and exasperated. At the same time, they are treated by that system as tiresome and undeserving. At Just for Kids Law we try to give them back that voice. We support young people as they pick their way through obstacles to access what is ultimately their entitlement as citizens. But our work is limited and for everyone we help – with phone calls, letters, support at tribunals, and signposting to expert advice and representation – there are many more young people having to struggle alone.

Rosie Eatwell-White is a youth advocate at Just for Kids Law


The centrepiece of Let us Learn/Just for Kid’s law’s ‘Young, Gifted and Blocked’ campaign (launched today) is a powerful three-minute film, featuring eight ambitious and highly motivated young people who have faced barriers to taking up hard-won university places.

This unique film, made by Contra Agency, came about as a result of collaboration between a gifted maths student, The Robertson Trust, and Just for Kids Law/Let us Learn.

Let us Learn was approached by Tashi Tahir, 20, a maths student at St Andrews University, Scotland. Tashi was a supporter of the campaign, having previously faced her own difficulties in continuing her studies because she was ineligible for a student loan. She had been able to take up her place at St Andrews only thanks to a scholarship from The Robertson Trust, and was keen to help others who were still in educational limbo.

St. Andrews student Tashi Tahir helepd make #younggiftedandblocked film about young people denied access to student finance for university

Gifted maths student, Tashi Tahir

The timing was perfect. Let us Learn was planning to launch a campaign targeting universities, by writing to vice-chancellors, calling on them to set up special funding schemes to enable students like them to continue their studies. They realised that a video explaining the issue and allowing students directly affected to talk about their educational dreams and career ambitions would be a powerful addition to the campaign.

She applied for and was granted a ‘self-development’ award from The Robertson Trust to make the film and spent the summer in London working with the Just for Kids Law/Let us Learn team to develop and produce the film. Tashi also appears in the video, explaining how she first found out she didn’t qualify for a loan, and how she believes universities are missing out on many able students because of the current shortage of scholarships and bursaries they can apply for.

Joel Carter, Let us Learn project manager, says: ‘Tashi has been a brilliant addition to the team and we have all enjoyed working with her on this film. All of us are delighted with the result. The film really encapsulates the excitement that the Let us Learn campaigners feel about the prospect of going to university and why they want to continue learning. I want to thank not just Tashi, but Ade Lamuye, another key member of the Let us Learn team who worked on the film, plus all the participants, Agnes, Ruth, Tosin, Arkam, Sam, Chrisann and Kimani. Thanks also to everyone at Contra, who did a brilliant job and were completely enthusiastic and committed to the project all the way through.’




Ambitious and gifted young people campaign for right to study

Hundreds of young people who have grown up in the UK but fall outside the eligibility criteria for student loans, are calling on universities to create scholarship places to allow them to continue their education.


Without financial support from universities, many high-achieving young migrants who have lived in this country most of their lives will be blocked from studying for degrees, and from pursuing professional careers. This is an issue which affects young people across the country, but is particularly acute in London, because of its richly diverse population.


In the latest phase of its ‘Young, Gifted and Blocked’ campaign launched today, over 100 London-based members of Let us Learn (see below) have personally signed a letter which has today been sent to the vice chancellors of the top universities in the capital.


They are calling on universities to create scholarships which would end the educational limbo that is preventing them from continuing their education, because the criteria for receiving a student loan are narrowly drawn.


‘We are writing to ask you to help long-standing migrants like us continue our studies. By doing so, you will also be helping your university ensure it is able to recruit talented and diverse young people, who are often under represented in further education.


‘Many of us come from families where we would be the first members to go to university; all of us believe passionately in the importance of obtaining a degree, and are keen to have the opportunity to pursue our educational and career ambitions.’


Signatories to the letter include would-be doctors, scientists, and lawyers – plus a young woman with ambitions to be the first black British astronaut.


Agnes Harding, 18 who lives in Barking and Dagenham, and achieved straight As in her physics, chemistry and maths A-levels this year, has had offers from four Russell Group universities to study physics. It is her ambition to follow in the footsteps of British astronauts Major Tim Peake and Dr Helen Sharman.


Agnes says:


‘I want to study physics because it is my ambition to be an astronaut. I am a very curious person and a bit of an adrenalin junkie. I love knowledge and expanding my understanding of the universe. I would be fascinated to conduct research in space to discover what’s out there.’


Although Agnes has lived in the UK since she was four, she does not qualify for a student loan, and so has not been able to take up any of her university offers. She also faces paying international fees, which can be several times higher than the £9,000 a year maximum charged to home students.


Agnes features in ‘Young, Gifted and Blocked’, a three-minute film produced by Let us Learn, which is also launched today. The film highlights the plight of young people like her, and urges universities to help them by setting up scholarship schemes to enable young migrants to continue learning.


See film here:



The film also features 20-year old Arkam Babar, who wants to work in the field of climate change research but was left in educational limbo after he found out he didn’t qualify for a student loan.  In the weeks since the film was shot, Arkam has been awarded a scholarship by Kings College London, and is now delighted to have started a geography degree.


Arkam says:


‘Before I was awarded the scholarship by Kings College London, I had little hope of being able to study, which was devastating as my family has always placed a strong emphasis on education. I had already previously had to turn down a university place, when I first found out I didn’t qualify for a student loan, which was very hard for me. The Kings scholarship has transformed my situation. I have now started my course and can look forward to pursuing my career ambitions. I only hope that more young people get the chance that I have been given to pursue their educational dreams.’


Let us Learn is calling on universities across the country to follow the lead set by Kings College London, by creating similar funding arrangements.


The Let us Learn campaign was launched in 2014 by the award-winning charity Just for Kids Law.


Just for Kids Law founder and director Shauneen Lambe says:


‘We have now been contacted by over 600 ambitious young people who – having studied hard and done well at school – want nothing more than to be able to take up hard-won university places. They have been to school here and lived in the UK most of their lives. Yet, when it comes to going to university, they are treated as overseas students – they cannot get a student loan, and can be charged international fees by universities, which are often two or three times the £9,000 a year paid by other students. There are very few other funding options available to young people in this situation. Unless universities recognise the problem and set up the kind of schemes that Kings College London is offering, large numbers of young people like them will continue to be denied the opportunity of a university education and blocked from professional careers.


‘We don’t think our country can afford to let so much talent and ambition go to waste. Universities rightly stress their commitment to social inclusion and increasing their recruitment of under-represented groups. The Let us Learn campaigners are taking them at their word, and have written to vice-chancellors, calling on them to prove they are serious about diversity by creating scholarships so that many more young people like them can continue learning.’


For more information or to arrange interviews with members of Let us Learn, contact Fiona Bawdon, 07740 644474,, or Caroline O’Dwyer, 07984 095793, carolineo’


Notes to editors


  1. A copy of the ‘Young, Gifted and Blocked’ letter and briefing paper sent by Let us Learn to members of the University of London can be found here: letter briefing paper.


  1. Details of the Kings College London ‘Sanctuary’ scholarship scheme are available here:



Two members of Let us Learn (Arkam Babar, studying geography, and Sharon Akaka, studying history) who were previously blocked from continuing their studies have been able to take up places at Kings College London this year, thanks to funding provided under this scheme.


  1. Details of the ‘long residence’ criteria for government student loans are available here:



  1. The ‘Young, Gifted and Blocked’ film was made for Just for Kids Law by Contra Agency (

It was generously funded by The Robertson Trust as part of a self-development award, won by Tashi Tahir, who is also one of the participants in the film. Tashi is now studying maths at St Andrews University, Scotland, thanks to a scholarship from The Robertson Trust.


  1. Just for Kids Law is an award-winning youth justice charity.



  1. Let us Learn is a youth-led organisation, founded under the auspices of Just for Kids Law in 2014, to campaign for equal access to education.




Trainee solicitor wanted: must be passionate about improving children’s lives

Applications close 20 September 2016 for January 2017 post


Just for Kids Law is delighted to be recruiting our first ever Justice First Fellowship trainee solicitor, thanks to support from The Legal Education Foundation.


Applications, which must be made via TLEF’s website here close on 20 September, and the trainee will take up their post with us in January 2017, which is also our tenth anniversary year.


Just for Kids Law was founded in 2007 by two campaigning and committed youth justice lawyers, solicitor Aika Stephenson and barrister Shauneen Lambe, who continue to lead the organisation.


Aika and Shauneen had the vision to create a charity which would provide legal and social support to young people in difficulties, and the organisation now employs 30 members of staff, including nine lawyers and a similar number of advocates-at-large, who work with young people in the community.


Of this opportunity Shauneen says:


‘I had the great privilege of working for [anti-death-penalty campaigner] Clive Stafford Smith at an early stage of my legal career. I consider him one of the greatest lawyers and mentors. Clive taught me what a powerful tool the law can be, and also the difference that one individual can make. We are so delighted to be part of the Justice First Fellowship scheme, and support its aim of creating the future leaders of the social welfare law profession. We hope that we can, in some small way, inspire the lawyers of the future.


‘We have a brilliant team at Just for Kids Law with inspirational and expert lawyers, who are completely dedicated to improving the lives of their young clients. This is an ideal opportunity for a trainee who really wants to make a difference. It is particularly fitting that they will be joining us in what will be the year of our tenth anniversary.’


Just for Kids Law’s Justice First Fellow will be trained in education law, social welfare law, youth justice and public law.


The fellow will also have a chance to work closely with our strategic litigation team, which has been involved in changing the law to help children and young people four times in the last four years, through judicial reviews and Supreme Court interventions. The trainee’s work will range from working directly with vulnerable young clients, to working on cases in some of the highest courts in the land.


Just for Kids Law’s strategic litigation team has changed the law four times in four years, including its intervention in the 2015 Supreme Court Tigere case





The Justice First Fellowship scheme was launched in 2015 by The Legal Education Foundation. Candidates must have passed their LPC, and are expected to undertake a personal project during their two-year training, aimed at directly increasing access to justice.


More details available from TLEF








Training contract at Just for Kids Law

We are one of 11 host organisations that will provide a fully funded trainee solicitor post through the Legal Education Foundation’s 2016 Fellowship scheme.

Applicants for TLEF’s ground-breaking scheme must have passed the Legal Practice Course, and have proven commitment to social justice. Applications must be made via TLEF’s website and to a single host organisation only. The closing date is 20 September 2016. Fellows will take up their posts in January 2017. You can read more here

Legal action as part of a campaign by Just for Kids Law prompts Islington Council into urgent review of children held in police cells overnight in the borough


25 July 2016


Islington council has a long standing poor track record for failing to accommodate children from the police station, but evidence shows that councils nationwide are routinely not complying with their legal duties, by failing to provide alternative accommodation for arrested children.

The legal action with lawyers Hodge, Jones and Allen and barristers from renowned human rights set, Doughty Street chambers, is part of Just for Kids Law’s ‘No child in cells’ campaign, launched today, calling for an end to the widespread practice of detaining children, some as young as eight, in adult cells.

The campaign includes a short video created by digital agency Adjust Your Set dramatising the impact and distress that being kept in a cell can cause children and their families.

Just for Kids Law, the award-winning charity, will also call on the new Secretary of State for Education and the Home Secretary to use their legal powers under the Children Act 1989, to mandate local authorities to comply with the law relating to children detained at the police station.

Just for Kids Law director Shauneen Lambe says:

‘A police cell designed for an adult is no place for a child. Everyone, from the new Prime Minister to the police lead for children, agrees that children and young people are particularly vulnerable and need to be kept safe after arrest – yet laws designed to protect them are being ignored up and down the country, every day of the year. It is particularly appalling that children as young as eight are being kept in cells overnight; often it is because Local Authorities are failing to accommodate them when asked to do so. That is why we have begun action against Islington Council; we will take similar steps against other local authorities, unless they start complying with their legal duties.’

The Islington case relates to a vulnerable 14 year old boy who was kept in a cell overnight on multiple occasions since March this year, because Islington failed to provide any alternative accommodation for him.

There is an ‘absolute duty’ under section 21(2)(b) of the Children Act 1989 for the local authority to provide accommodation when requested to do so by the police.

In response to a FOI request from Just for Kids Law, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that last year, Islington council received 94 requests from them to provide a bed for a child being held at the police station – yet they did not accommodate a single one of these children.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said in a witness statement:

‘Custody suites are not designed to accommodate children….very few have facilities specifically for children; the environment is accordingly an intimidating one. Cell areas lack comfort and the provision of emotional support is almost entirely absent.’

In its formal response to the legal action, Islington council said it had: ‘decided to set up a formal review, which will have the remit to investigate, learn from and make recommendations in relation not only to the facts of the present case but also in relation to any wider issues there may be in Islington.’

Louise King, Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), said:

“No child should be locked up in a police cell simply because alternative accommodation isn’t available. CRAE’s research has revealed that last year in London alone nearly 8,000 children were detained in police cells overnight – including three 11 year old girls. Police, local authorities and politicians urgently need to work together to put an end to this.”

Although the legal challenge is in London this is a nationwide issue. In 2011-12, 40,000 children – 800 a week – were detained at police stations overnight. *.

For more information contact Caroline O’Dwyer, carolineo’ 07984 095793 or Fiona Bawdon,; 020 3174 2279;

Notes for editors

  1. Just for Kids Law is a London-based, award-winning charity, which supports young people facing difficulties in their lives.
  2. CRAE merged into Just for Kids Law last year. They work with over 150 organisational and individual members to promote children’s rights, making them one of the biggest children’s rights coalitions in the world.
  3. Theresa May’s letter to local authorities in January 2015 can be found here:
  4. * (page 12)
  5. Section 38(6) of Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 states: Where a custody officer authorises an arrested juvenile to be kept in police detention under subsection (1) above, the custody officer shall, unless he certifies—(a)that, by reason of such circumstances as are specified in the certificate, it is impracticable for him to do so; or (b)in the case of an arrested juvenile who has attained the age of 12 years, that no secure accommodation is available and that keeping him in other local authority accommodation would not be adequate to protect the public from serious harm from him, secure that the arrested juvenile is moved to local authority accommodation.
  6. Section 21(2)(b) of the Children Act 1989 states that ‘every local authority must receive and provide accommodation for children whom they are requested to receive under section 38(6) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
  7. Legal representation has been provided by Hodge, Jones and Allen Solicitors and Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Mary-Rachel McCabe, barristers at Doughty Street Chambers.
  8. Adjust Your Set is a digital content agency – learn more about their work at
  9. Although many local councils are failing to accommodate children held at the police station there are some examples of good practice – such as a protocol that has been set up by Greater Manchester Police.


‘Young, gifted and blocked’ campaigners graduate from Just for Kids Law’s groundbreaking leadership training

Lord Kerr, Justice of the UK Supreme Court, ‘graduated’ 11 successful candidates in a special ceremony held yesterday evening in London.

Eleven young people who are campaigning for equal access to education, have completed a unique six-month leadership course, designed by Just for Kids Law founder and barrister Shauneen Lambe.

They are part of the award-winning Let us Learn campaign, which involves hundreds of young people who grew up in the UK, but are unable to take up university places because they fall outside restrictive student loan eligibility criteria. Read the full press release here



Lord Kerr tells the graduates:

‘Go forth in life and embrace all the opportunities it presents. Also, all live your lives with inspiration – but remember, as Baudelaire said, “Inspiration comes of working every day”.’












Londoner, Ijeoma, tells her  story: ‘I’ve lived in this city for 19 years. I know no other home…the Student Loan Company .. doesn’t treat me as if I am  a Londoner. They treat me as if I have never set foot in this country. I am not entitled to a student loan, and I can be charged international fees – which is why I can’t go to university.’

You can read the full text of Ijeoma’s speech here




‘Young, gifted and blocked’ campaigners graduate from Just for Kids Law’s groundbreaking leadership training

Press release 14 July 2016

‘Young, gifted and blocked’ campaigners graduate from Just for Kids Law’s groundbreaking leadership training

Lord Kerr, Justice of the UK Supreme Court, ‘graduated’ 11 successful candidates in a special ceremony held yesterday evening.

Eleven young people who are campaigning for equal access to education, have completed a unique six-month leadership course, designed by Just for Kids Law founder and barrister Shauneen Lambe.

They are part of the award-winning Let us Learn campaign, which involves hundreds of young people who grew up in the UK, but are unable to take up university places because they fall outside restrictive student loan eligibility criteria.

These 11 young leaders were celebrated on Wednesday 13 July, at a ceremony attended by their families and supporters. Despite having the talent and ambition to go to university, this may be the only chance some of them have to invite their families to attend a graduation ceremony.

They were presented with graduation certificates by Lord Kerr, Justice of the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court.

Each of the 11 young people achieved good A-level grades, but has faced difficult barriers to achieving their ambition of going to university.

Among those graduated by Lord Kerr on Wednesday were:

– Dami Makinde, who is 22 and lives in Ilford. Dami won a place to study sociology and criminology at Royal Holloway College in 2015, but has been unable to take it up because she isn’t eligible for a student loan. She is currently working as project coordinator for the Let us Learn campaign.

– Ijeoma Moore, 21, who lives in Barking, wants to be a psychologist, but isn’t able to go to university because of lack of access to student finance. In May 2016, Ijeoma told her story to an audience of 6,000 people at the London Copperbox Arena (see below).

– Emmanuel Opoku, 21, has just completed his first year at Imperial College London, where he is studying chemistry. Emmanuel was only able to take up his place after a two-year delay, thanks to a Tiko Foundation scholarship, which generously covers the £26,000 ‘overseas rate’ fees he is charged by Imperial. He used crowdfunding to raise money for his living expenses during his studies.

Just for Kids Law founder Shauneen Lambe says:

‘They are a fantastic group of ambitious young people, who would love to continue their studies and have the chance to follow their dreams. They have been blocked from university, but are taking every opportunity to learn and develop new skills – which is why we wanted to offer them this leadership training. As well as helping them become leaders of their own lives and in their own communities, the training will help make them more resilient and confident – skills which are invaluable given the obstacles many of them continue to face with their education.’

Ijeoma says:

‘Shauneen really challenged us to think about the kind of people we want to be in the world, and how to overcome any setbacks we face. The course gave me a clearer idea of who I am, my own strengths, and who I want to be. I was really nervous about standing up in front of thousands of people at the London Mayoral Hustings, but with the confidence this programme gave me, I knew I could do it.’

The course was designed by Shauneen, and was built on the principles of the ‘True North’ leadership programme, taught at Harvard University by Prof Bill George.

For more information contact Fiona Bawdon,; 020 3174 2279; Caroline O’Dwyer, carolineo’ 07984 095793

Notes for editors

1. Just for Kids Law is a London-based, award-winning charity, which supports young people facing difficulties in their lives.

2. Funding for the Let us Learn leadership training was provided by Unbound Philanthropy.

3. The Let us Learn campaign was founded in 2014, and currently involves over 400 young migrants, who have faced obstacles going to university because of restrictive eligibility criteria for student loans.

Let Us Learn

4. Shauneen Lambe is the founder and director of Just for Kids Law. In 2011, she was sponsored by the World Economic Forum to attend the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century course at Harvard Kennedy School of Governance. In 2015, she became an Eisenhower Fellow, where one of her commitments was to mentor young people into leadership roles.

5. The Right Hon the Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore was one of the inaugural Justices of the Supreme Court of the UK when it was founded on 1 October 2009. He was previously a law lord. He is an Eisenhower Fellow.

6. See link for Ijeoma Moore addressing the London Mayoral Hustings at the Copper Box Arena (starts around 1,57 minutes):

7. Just for Kids Law is based near Euston, in office space donated pro bono by the leading law firm Hodge Jones & Allen.


Youth Justice Legal Centre nominated for prestigious award

The Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC) has been shortlisted by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2016 in the ‘Access to Justice through IT’ category.

Through its innovative use of technology, the Youth Justice Legal Centre is educating lawyers and empowering young people and parents, helping to fill a gap in the wake of cuts to legal aid. It is forging a new specialist area of law – youth justice – for one of our most vulnerable groups, so frequently overlooked in the criminal justice system.

YJLC provides much-needed legally accurate information about youth justice law; legal overviews; specialist training; a discussion forum; and expert advice for barristers, solicitors and legal executives representing children in the youth justice system. You can find out more about YJLC here

The winners will be announced by Baroness Doreen Lawrence at a ceremony in central London on 7 July 2016

Full details and the LAPG press release here


Award-winning charity targets would-be lawyers with legal equivalent of ‘Teach First’ graduate scheme.

Just for Kids Law is recruiting would-be lawyers to work as community-based trainee ‘youth advocates’ for a year.


Just for Kids Law is today (Monday 16 May) launching its groundbreaking ‘Advocacy Year’ scheme, thanks to funding from the Big Lottery. Under the scheme, graduate recruits will receive a month’s intensive training, before working alongside the charity’s outreach team for 10 months.


The posts will be open to all graduates, but the advocacy and negotiation skills learned are likely to be of particular appeal to anyone seeking a legal career.  Advocates will be given basic training in the law relating to education, community care, youth justice, immigration and welfare benefits. They will be paid a stipend for the year equivalent to the London living wage.


Just for Kids Law director Shauneen Lambe says:


‘The legal field is becoming increasingly competitive and we believe Advocacy Year will appeal to graduates who want to stand out to future employers. Law firms and chambers want applicants who can show they are good at thinking on their feet and responding well in different situations. These skills are equally vital for our youth advocates. They have strong communication skills, which means that as well as supporting intensely vulnerable young people, advocates are equipped to negotiate successfully with hard-pressed professionals, such as head teachers and school governors, or social workers.’


The pilot has already received support from within the legal profession.


Michael Bowes QC, joint head of Outer Temple Chambers, says:


“Advocacy Year is a brilliant opportunity for graduates who are considering becoming lawyers to learn practical advocacy skills by helping young people in need.  Being selected to be on Advocacy Year would be a definite plus point on anyone’s CV.”


Advocacy Year has been two years in the planning and is being run initially as a three-year pilot. If the pilot is successful, it is hoped to roll the model out to other areas of the UK. During the pilot phase, Advocacy Year trainees will be based in Just for Kids Law’s new office in Canning Town – in space provided by Community Links – an area known for having high levels of poverty and deprivation.


Advocacy Year is supported by an advisory board which will monitor and review the scheme as it progresses. Inaugural board members include Daniel Klier, Global Head of Strategy at HSBC, who first developed the idea along with Shauneen Lambe, as a way of increasing the number of disadvantaged young people to benefit from Just for Kids Law’s support.


Shauneen Lambe says:


‘The work of our existing team of youth advocates is at the heart of everything that Just for Kids Law stands for. They help some of the most desperate and disadvantaged young people get their lives back on track. However, our resources are always at full stretch and we have to turn away many young people who would benefit from our support. The Advocacy Year scheme will enable us to make Just for Kids Law’s resources go further, and to support an additional 1,000 young, vulnerable people over the life of the pilot.’


The deadline for applications for the three initial Advocacy Year posts is 13 June; interviews will be held on 30th June and Friday 1st July, start date: Monday 5th September. Three further advocates will be recruited each year in 2017 and in 2018.


For more information about Advocacy Year, contact Fiona Bawdon, Just for Kids Law communications co-director,; 020 3174 2279; 07740 644474.


Notes for editors:


  1. Just for Kids Law is a charity that provides advocacy and legal support to disadvantaged young people.


  1. Advocacy Year applications can be made here:


  1. Shauneen Lambe was chosen as an Ashoka fellow in 2012, one of 31 Ashoka social entrepreneurs in the UK. Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system-changing ideas into practice on a global scale. In 2014, Just for Kids Law went through the Ashoka Globalizer programme to develop a scaling strategy, with the support of business advisors and consultants from McKinsey.


  1. Daniel Klier and Shauneen Lambe are both World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders, which was set up as an integral part of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders project.


  1. For details of Big Lottery support for Advocacy Year, see:


  1. Community Links is an innovative east London charity running a variety of community projects.