It is hard to imagine facing court on your own, yet this is the reality for many people going through civil and family courts, or employment and welfare tribunals. Many thousands of people who cannot afford a lawyer are caught by life-changing situations such as eviction, loss of income, or even loss of contact with their children and must represent themselves, with no access to legal advice. In one case, we helped Linda at a desperate time in her life.
Linda* has serious physical and mental health problems, but faced court without legal help to prove it. In order to keep her Employment and Support Allowance, Linda had to face a benefit tribunal hearing and she was very anxious and tearful.
A PSU volunteer was able to meet Linda at the court, explain how the tribunal would operate, and clarify exactly what she wanted to say to the tribunal. The hearing took around half an hour, and Linda cried through virtually the whole hearing. Nonetheless, she had a PSU volunteer by her side to give her emotional support.
10 minutes after the hearing, Linda was told she had won her appeal. While the extra £20 a week and the reduction in stress for Linda were invaluable, she also experienced the success of asserting herself, being listened to and believed, and directly achieving an improvement in her own life.
If you would like to read Linda's full story, click here.
Almost half of us will use the justice system at some point in our lives. Imagine having to do it alone when you are fighting for your welfare benefits like Linda, or battling difficult personal circumstances like divorce, eviction, bankruptcy or debt. We think this is wrong and aim to have more PSU volunteers in more courts across England and Wales.
Donate today and help the growing number of people facing court alone.