Two court-based services that provide free advice are working together to provide a ‘safe space’ for litigants in person during the pandemic. The safe space project, from Support Through Court and RCJ Advice, was announced at a Support Through Court family law webinar last week.
Jovana Ugrinic, Support Through Court service manager at Central London Family Court, said the group will provide working pods with tablet computers in which litigants can safely contact volunteers if they cannot do so from home.
Ugrinic said: ‘It is one of the ways we think we can combine targeted support from volunteers working from home, who do not feel comfortable coming to the office, [while] at the same time providing a safe space to someone who can come to the court building.’
Support Through Court, which has 21 offices across the country, set up a national helpline before the country went into lockdown which has helped nearly 5,000 clients. Despite being ‘catapulted into the unknown world of remote hearings’, the charity has attended about 400 hearings.
She added: ‘Some remote hearings appear to be an OK solution but for others it was simply disastrous because of the additional layers of vulnerabilities – language barriers, learning difficulties.’ People also struggled with technology and ended up ‘feeling invisible’.