I first went to the family court in 2010. I was not represented and had to deal with Solicitors, Barristers, Judges, Cafcass, Children's services and a child psychologist on my own.
I lost custody of my daughter in November 2015 after 32 court appearances. I had no knowledge of the court system and during this time, I was ripped apart. There was no legal aid to help.
I first visited the Personal Support Unit (PSU) in June 2016. I explained to the PSU team about my situation and how the system had let down my daughter and me. I asked for help on how to change my situation, as my daughter had been distressed with her current living arrangements over the last year.
They gave me information on what forms needed to be completed, how the court system worked, and how to represent myself, and they helped me make sure I was doing things correctly.
Over this last year, I have visited the PSU constantly for support. In April 2017, with the PSU's help, I applied for an emergency hearing. A further three hearings have now led to my daughter being able to live with me until further investigations have been completed. A wonderful PSU volunteer attended the hearings with me. Having that support in court has helped me with the fear of court proceedings.
The PSU has made me more confident to deal with court proceedings. Their support has been fantastic during this difficult time and I am quite sure without the help I have recieved my daughter would not be back in my care now.