A non-profit organisation in Athlone that gives free legal advice has started a fund-raising drive to stay afloat.
Covid-19 has seen the usual sources of income dry up for the Athlone District Advice Office (ADAO), and now it hopes to raise R100 000 in coming months to cover assorted running costs, including data, printing, phone calls, transport, outreach programmes and stipends, according to spokesman Brian Alcock.
“We are currently based at the Calvinist Protestant Church in Kewtown, and we would love to make a monthly contribution to the church as well. The community we serve have limited finances, and most cannot afford legal costs. If we reach our target of raising R100 000, that will see us through for the next nine months,” Mr Alcock said.
The ADAO helps with various legal issues relating to, among other things, labour disputes, housing, child maintenance, divorce proceedings, wills and estate, consumer complaints, domestic violence, women’s rights, social security and HIV/Aids. Over the years, it has established networks with various government departments.
Moira Crowder, of Bridgetown, is one of many who have been helped by the ADAO.
“I am unemployed and went through a divorce,” she said. “I would never have been able to afford the legal fees associated with the service I received from the ADAO. Mr Alcock is always looking out for me; he is even looking out for a job for me. He is very helpful.
“There were times I did not have food, and Mr Alcock will arrange for a food parcel for me. He never turns anyone away. I have referred a few people to him who also needed legal assistance. I am very grateful for all their help.”
Albert Apollis came all the way from Northpine for help.
“I grew up in Bridgetown and still have a close connection to the people and the area,” he said. “I had a problem with a supplier, and the ADAO educated me about my rights. As a pensioner, I would not have been able to afford legal fees.”