Our network has a number of Lay Advocates who are experienced in helping parents
fight against social services. The vast majority are parents themselves and many
have experienced the system at first hand. Through research, education and practical
application they have developed a strong understanding of how to take on social services.
No matter at what point you are with a social service intervention our team of Lay
Advocates can help. Whether you need to make complaints to the Local Authority, require
submissions for court, need to learn how to represent yourself as a litigant in person
or bring appeals we can help.
Recent successes have included preventing the removal of a newborn at birth, successfully
opposing an adoption order, obtaining leave for a number of Judicial Reviews in the
High Court in Dublin, including the quashing of a Care Order. We have stopped the
return of a child to the UK under a Brussels II application as well as supporting
families who have fled.
What can we do to help you?
Why use a Lay Advocate, not a solicitor?
First of all it’s not necessarily a choice that has to be made as you can use both.
A Lay Advocate can help you instruct solicitors and barristers and get them to actually
fight your case how you want to fight it. Sadly many solicitors, particularly legal
aid funded ones simply do not fight your case. They are adept at simply 'playing
the game' and taking their legal aid fees regardless of what happens to you and your
That's not to say there aren't some great family solicitors and barristers who fight
tooth and nail in a case - there are – and we are lucky to have associations with
Lay Advocates, whilst charging a fee, do so at a much reduced rate from the average
solicitor and will generally cover all aspects of your case, no matter how long it
continues and no matter what is required, from complaints through to appeals and
alternative judicial remedies such as Judicial Reviews. Lay Advocates are generally
available when solicitors are not - evenings, weekends and public holidays etc. They
are there when you just need that discussion, reassurance or explanation.
One advantage Lay Advocates have is that they have empathy with you as they may have
experienced the same themselves and have a personal interest in helping you 'win'
your case. Our Lay Advocates constantly strive to find effective methods of challenging
the social services system beyond the family courts, helping people win Judicial
Reviews, bringing defamation proceedings, even private prosecutions against individuals.
Whilst a family solicitor may simply operate in the family court we work to utilise
all judicial remedies that may help a family obtain justice.
What a Lay Advocate isn’t
Lay Advocates are not legal professionals, they are not and neither do they pretend
to be Solicitors, Barristers etc. They do not offer legal advice like a solicitor
does but they can help you understand and apply the law as a Litigant-in-person or
through your solicitor. By using a Lay Advocate your voice can be heard and what
you want to be seen and heard by a judge can be presented correctly utilising the
required formats and procedures. They can help prepare you for court by training
you in the key areas. Lay Advocates do not have a right of audience in the courts
though this can sometimes be granted, but ultimately you are better off speaking
for yourself with your advocates help.
Lay Advocates cannot act as an intermediary for you with Social Services, but they
can help you construct letters and correspondence, forensically disect social workers
reports and help you challenge them. Lay Advocates can attend court with you (at
cost for subsistence and travel) though may not be given access to in camera proceedings,
but they can be there to guide and support you.
Some specific examples of what we do
Complaints under Section 26 of the Children's Act 1989 (UK) / Your Service Your Say
Fitness to Practice Complaints to HCPC (Health Care Professionals Council -UK) or
Challenging Social Work Reports/records and decisions.
Submissions for Social Services meetings.
Submissions/Affidavits for Court.
Highlighting your case with the media.
Training you to be a Litigant in Person.
Understanding and exercising your Human Rights.
Bringing a Judicial Review in the High Court.
Making a Defamation claim.
Private Prosecutions against individuals.
Understanding your child's rights.
Fighting a Brussels II.
Advice on fleeing social services.
This is not an exhaustive list, more a reflection of some of the work undertaken
by our network of advocates. The bottom line is if you are facing social services
intervention you do not have to be alone – we are here to help.