Asylum Justice (AJ) was first established in Swansea in 2005 by Roger Warren Evans, a retired barrister, who quickly realised that the asylum seekers and refugees that he was meeting through his church needed much more than tea and sympathy; they needed legal advice and representation.
Roger’s vision of free, independent legal services for asylum seekers and refugees in Wales soon garnered support. Roger, along with his fellow trustees and growing team of dedicated volunteers, began to work tirelessly to assist clients across Cardiff, Swansea and Newport.
Sadly, at the beginning of 2013, having operated for 8 years and having assisted over 3,000 clients, AJ was forced to suspend operations. Up until this point, AJ had relied entirely on volunteers and the pro bono services of qualified lawyers. However, it became apparent to the trustees that AJ could no longer continue due to a decline in individual charitable giving (experienced similarly by other voluntary sector organisations post-recession) and the difficulty in securing the voluntary support of sufficient numbers of qualified lawyers to meet the demanding caseload. During the following months a core group of volunteers and trustees began researching and developing a more sustainable service model which was presented to trustees and accepted in June 2013.
A new board of trustees formed in August 2013 (with Emma Borland appointed as the new Chair) to continue to work on the new service delivery model and to begin fundraising (lead by Siân Summers-Rees).
Thanks to funding from the Tudor Trust, who recognised the great need to develop a new third-sector approach to the delivery of free and effective legal services for asylum seekers and refugees in Wales, AJ was able to recommence operations. Under the new project model AJ is once again able to provide a crucial service, helping asylum seekers and refugees to access justice in the numerous cases where the provision of Legal Aid falls short.