Luke’s Place has been recognized for the expansion of its innovative Virtual Legal Clinic in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization received the 2020-21 Victim Services Award of Distinction by the Ministry of the Attorney General for its hard work and dedication.
This is the third time that Luke’s Place has been honoured with this award; the Oshawa women’s organization was also acknowledged in 2008 and 2014.
Luke’s Place Executive Director Carol Barkwell says they are honoured to have been nominated and selected for this award, which recognizes the dedication and creativity of professionals and volunteers who serve victims, and the courageous efforts of individuals who have been personally impacted by crime and are now working to raise the profile of victims’ issues in Ontario, including the Indigenous, northern, and rural communities.
“This spotlight on Luke’s Place Virtual Legal Clinic is a spotlight on all the lawyers who volunteer their services as well as our staff and the service providers across the province who have worked so hard during the pandemic to make sure abuse survivors have access to legal services,” she says.
Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Luke’s Place Virtual Legal Clinic connects women abuse survivors to family law via video-conferencing for summary legal advice. Women receive practical and emotional support throughout the process by legal support workers.
Launched in 2016, the clinic was first designed for women in rural and remote communities.
The organization says the need to expand the clinic became evident with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and the closing of family court services.
“We opened our doors to women anywhere in the province in April 2020,” says Barkwell. “I am very proud of the Luke’s Place team for their dedication in providing a vital legal service for women who have experienced abuse in their relationship, particularly for women outside of major urban centres who face additional access to justice challenges.”