Support Through Court
Nottingham Law School (NLS) is now hosting Support Through Court's Nottingham Service and Support Through Court's new National Online Service will launch in the next few months. Both services will be based within the Law School.
This service will provide hundreds of work experience opportunities, with up to 48 students working across the two services each day, all year round. Support Through Court Service Managers based in NLS will train and supervise student volunteers.
Support Through Court is a charity that exists to provide practical and emotional support to people going through court without representation, as litigants in person. As a Support Through Court volunteer you will be involved in their work to empower people who can’t access legal aid and are facing court alone by:
- providing one-to-one supportive listening, helping clients who are undergoing a very stressful experience
- sorting through clients’ paperwork
- helping clients to think clearly before, during and after their hearings
- attending court with clients, or supporting them in remote hearings
- helping clients understand court processes and find their way around court buildings
- giving clients information about other agencies, including legal advice providers
The following case studies give a flavour of the work Support Through Court do with their clients:
Ms K is fighting to get her children back from local authority care or increase her access to them. She has chosen not to be represented as she has lost confidence in the legal profession. She asks for our help because she is aware she is calmer when a volunteer accompanies her.
Mrs B is separated from her violent and intimidating ex-husband, but occasionally they both still have to appear in court. She needs a great deal of reassurance. The volunteer arranges for her to leave the court by a separate entrance from the ex-husband.
Mr L is in his late 70s and fighting a case of bad workmanship on his house. He finds paperwork very daunting. A volunteer took 3 carrier bags of disordered papers and ordered them into files. It took all day. The client's relief and happiness was a pleasure to watch.
The clients who are most vulnerable and cannot afford legal advice and legal representation lack confidence and fear to enter the court rooms. All they need is someone to listen and understand them, provide moral support and give them reassurance that they are in control and strong enough to hold a statement in front of a judge and support themselves in the court. Through volunteering, I have developed verbal communication skills, interview skills, negotiation skills, effective listening skills, writing skills, critically thinking skills, time management skills and practical legal skills. These are all top skills expected from any aspiring solicitor.
Adelina, Student Volunteer in Chelmsford
Frequently asked questions about being a Support Through Court volunteer
What is a ‘student’ volunteer?
In order to volunteer for Support Through Court Nottingham you need to be a current NLS student.
Will I be providing a service in the criminal courts?
No. Support Through Court only operates in the civil and family courts. This means you will be dealing with clients who have had problems with debt, housing, money claims, divorce and care of children, employment or any other civil matter.
What information do I have to give?
As well as your application form and CV, we ask for information about any unspent convictions, and we also require at least one of your referees to confirm that there is no reason why you shouldn’t be suitable to work with vulnerable clients.
About Support Through Court
Every year, thousands of people in the UK face court alone. Often through no choice of their own, they must represent themselves at a moment that could determine the rest of their life. They may face divorce, eviction from their home, or the loss of their children. In an unfamiliar courtroom, up against a party with legal representation, the process can be stressful and confusing.
Support Through Court stand with people who have nowhere else to turn. They provide a free service across England and Wales, offering support and guidance before, during, and after court. The charity make sure people facing court are not alone, and help them navigate a complex legal system with dignity and self-assurance. Their trained volunteers support clients so they have the fairest possible hearing, helping them prepare what to say in court, accompanying them and debriefing with them afterwards.
An award-winning charity with nearly 500 dedicated volunteers, Support Through Court operate from 16 courts across England and Wales, as well as running a National Helpline. In 2021/22, they supported clients on over 49,000 occasions. Despite the growing need for this work, they remain the only organisation providing this service.