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Coalitions of legal aid providers: first results

Since the middle of 2015 in Ukraine the state system of providing free secondary legal aid in civil and administrative cases is adjusted: 100 local centers for free secondary legal aid are opened in all regions. Formation of coalitions of organizations that provide legal aid started in territorial communities.

But not everyone who addresses local centers needs secondary legal aid. Some visitors need consultations, help in filing complaint letters, statements. Free primary legal aid in communities where local centers are created was assumed by CSOs and associations, legal clinics and specialized establishments of local governments. Interaction and communication between providers of free legal aid in society are provided by integrators - employees of departments in local centers for secondary legal aid. They communicate with civic sector and create a map of providing relevant resources to community.

Therefore, when a person makes an inquiry that is beyond the integrator’s competence the last knows to what organization the person can be redirected to receive the necessary help. Such redirection is bilateral - from CSOs to the state center and vice versa.

For today, according to the survey of integrators in which employees of all 100 local centers for FSLA participated, the main stream in cooperation with CSOs is the client redirection (in 84 local centers). It is interesting that in half of regions the coalition includes not only organizations providing legal aid, but also those that provide professional help on other issues (48 local centers cooperate with service organizations). In 32 local communities the coalition of organizations carry out joint actions aimed to influence on local government in the solution of problematic issues of society. Besides, according to integrators in 72 communities the considerable part of joint activity is information support.

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Streams of cooperation of local centers for FSLA with CSOs

To develop coalitions of local organizations the majority of integrators of local centers for FSLA (61 persons) consider that it is necessary to hold joint communication events within advocacy campaigns, 55 persons consider it necessary to hold joint trainings in community. However, in 31 societies integrators noted that today it is difficult to talk about the created coalition of the local organizations.

According to these data a third of territorial communities (32), where the local centers for FSLA are created, rather strong coalitions of legal aid providers engaged in the joint advocacy activity are created. At the same time (31) there are no such coalitions yet in a third of territorial communities. Other territorial communities (37) have partially created coalitions that do not cooperate over solving specific problems of community together yet. Primary activity within the coalitions is providing citizens with timely legal aid through the redirection.

The first results of joint efforts of coalitions for influence on local government through advocacy campaigns can be seen in some communities already now: 9 local programs of development of free legal aid are adopted and are implemented, 5 programs are undergoing a procedure of formal preparation before the adoption; in 9 communities the adoption of the local program for development of free legal aid is previously coordinated.

Therefore, the coalitions are preparing drafts of such documents. In 20 regions possibility of the adoption of such programs the next year is being discussed and activists are working on their contents. In half of (54) regions where integrators work, negotiations with representatives of compulsory health insurance about the local program are at a stage of initiation of its development. In three communities from 100 local governments refused the idea of support of the program of development of free legal aid in the region. Productivity of advocacy campaigns for the adoption of such local programs depends on the level of cooperation of member organizations of coalitions in regions.Integratori111

To develop coalitions work mainly on efficiency of internal communication (in 62 communities). Integrators note that in many cases at the beginning of building cooperation between coalitions representatives of local governments did not attach significance to the development of FLA in the society. Publications in mass media, dissemination of the facts of the real help to people in solving their problems with the support of legal aid providers - these actions convince the authorities to change their point of view.

According to one of integrators of Khmelnitsky region, they succeeded to pursuade the authorities to implement the program of free legal aid development as all coalition members understood the importance of such program. Stakeholders are not only legal aid providers, but the whole community.

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