Founding member of the Camden Community Law Centre dies
26 May 2023
A LIFE of genuine commitment to others, Pip Cosin helped hundreds of people in their hour of need.
Pip, who has died aged 77, was a founding member of the Camden Community Law Centre in 1973 and spent 36 years working for the trailblazing, equal access legal advice service.
The centre needed legal secretaries and Pip applied for a job she would do for the rest of her working life.
Pip was born in Essex in 1946 to Lionel, a surgeon, and Pamela Cosin. The couple had a boy, Ben, followed by Pip. Leaving school aged 17, she headed to London to work for a publisher. After five years of editing manuscripts, in 1967 Pip enrolled to take a sociology A-level at the West London Adult Educational Institute. After passing the exam, she enrolled at the North London Polytechnic to take a sociology degree.
She was working in a pub Hampstead as she studied when she met her first husband, Doug. They had two daughters, Martha and Hannah.
In October 1973 the Camden Community Law Centre had been set up in Highgate Road.
The centre offered advice by lawyers who would shape legal battles over welfare, immigration, housing, employment and host of other topics in the years to come – Walter Merricks, Stephen Sedley, Geoffry Bindman and David Offenbach. Pip completed a law conversion course to add to her array of skills. The centre fitted her politics. She wanted to fight for people’s rights, help families, work through their problems.
When she retired in 2011, there were few people in Kentish Town who had not heard of her or knew someone she had aided.
Pip met Satnam Gill, who led the Working Men’s College for many years, in 1979. He had applied for a job as an immigration case worker and Pip was on the interview panel. Satnam was overlooked. But when the chosen candidate dropped out, he got the job. It was the start of a friendship that grew into love and they ended up living in a house in Dartmouth Park. They had a son, Kam, in 1983.
Satnam is known in Islington for his work as a Labour councillor.
Pip was a brilliant cook and warm welcomes included tables groaning with home cooked dishes.
Her political curiosity saw her follow the news religiously – her family have joked that they should play the Today programme at her funeral, instead of music.
She was a keen European, and more recently felt let down by the Labour leadership for not campaigning hard enough to stay in the European Union.
She built up her expertise after converting her degree to law, and went in to bat for tenants and welfare claimants, standing up against evictions or aggressive landlords and helping with applications for rehousing. She specialised in disrepair claims, improving the living conditions of literally hundreds of people.
Pip and Satnam, who had 42 happy years together, would later move to Tufnell Park, where a front garden is full of tumbling flowerbeds bursting with Forget Me Nots.
Her funeral takes place today (May 26) at 2pm, at Golders Green Crematorium.
All are welcome.