Bravo to the Personal Support Unit, which helps those facing civil or family court without lawyers
A couple of months ago I became a patron of the PSU charity, which helps those facing civil or family courts. I went along to the Royal Courts of Justice to explain why and to meet a superb collection of volunteers – who provide a mix of hand-holding of scared people, to providing excellent guidance to help them navigate the court system.
It occurred to me the other day that I'd never mentioned this on the site – so this blog is to rectify that. And as an easy way of explaining it, here's the PSU press release for the event…
Martin Lewis stands up for people facing court alone
Money Saving Expert and financial justice campaigner Martin Lewis has become a patron of the Personal Support Unit (the PSU), a charity helping people facing civil or family court cases without any legal help.
"The law is complex, that's why we have lawyers. Yet there is a growing crisis within the civil courts that ordinary people are having to face court without being able to finance any form of legal representation. Cases such as parents struggling to gain access to see their children, people in poor health fighting to keep the benefits they need, or individuals overwhelmed by the court procedures and now in danger of losing their livelihood or home.
"People are being forced to represent themselves, even though most have a very limited understanding of the court system and the law. That is not a properly functioning legal system, and it makes you question whether they will get justice, when it matters most.
"People need support and someone to stand by their side. This is why I am honoured to become a patron of the PSU – the charity that provides this support for free to thousands of people in the civil and family courts every year."
Almost half of us will face a civil or family court case on our own at some stage in our lives, and legal aid is now very rarely available. The PSU provides free support to anyone needing help in court on both a practical and emotional level.
They have over 700 trained volunteers across England and Wales who are in 24 civil and family courts. People facing court alone are matched to a volunteer who will help them with whatever they need – including form filling, research, finding free legal help and providing a calm and listening ear.
Civil justice is not a well-known or popular cause, but the emotional and often financial toll on people facing court alone is significant. People face debt, eviction, deportation, or losing contact with children. It is vital that those facing these extremely difficult situations receive guidance and support at a time of crisis.