People often ask us about where to go after the mediation has been completed or if the mediation does not go ahead. As part of Family Matters’ commitment to providing information for separating people, we have decided to talk about an important development in the court system.
The Personal Support Unit, a charity that was set up in 2001 to offer free emotional and practical support to people who have to go through court without a solicitor (self-represented person), has rebranded. It is now known as Support Through Court.
The charity aims to help those people who would otherwise be unable to obtain legal assistance or access justice. As legal aid is available for very few cases now, litigants in person (self representing people) are on the increase, so the type of help that Support Through Court can offer, such as helping with paperwork and organising case notes, can be vital in giving individuals the confidence to handle their case.
Help is provided through the organisation via a network of around 700 volunteers across the country and it is supported financially by donations from businesses and individuals. Support Through Court says that it helped in over 75,000 cases between April 2018 and March 2019. Sixty percent of the cases were family-related and others have dealt with immigration, housing, employment and bankruptcy matters.
Support Through Court recognises that having to represent yourself in court can lead to problems such as relationship breakdown, mental health issues, financial and employment difficulties. It says that “navigating an unfamiliar legal system can be overwhelming” and the language and courtroom rules can be “archaic”, alienating clients – some of whom even think that the courtroom wigs give a feeling of “other-worldliness”.
Family mediator and director of Family Matters, Juliette Dalrymple, says “This is a very useful organisation to which we direct people who are unable to afford the legal help they may need when they are struggling with separation issues. Divorce and separation can be devastating to children’s wellbeing, especially when matters drag on. The support that this charity offers can prove vital in enabling litigants in person to deal with their legal matter quickly and efficiently.”
The charity is currently looking to increase its corporate partner base from 22 to 30 and the president of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale of Richmond, led a fundraising appeal on Radio 4 in July of this year. If this is something that interests you, please contact Support Through Court.