A free court-based legal support service launched in partnership between Birmingham City University’s (BCU) School of Law and national legal charity, Support Through Court, has provided practical and emotional support to over 190 clients going through Birmingham’s courts in its first three weeks since opening.
BCU School of Law students are playing a vital role in the service as they volunteer on behalf of Support Through Court at the Birmingham Court offices providing legal support to people going through the Birmingham legal system without representation.
The service, which launched in early November following a period of closure of Support Through Court’s Birmingham office, is already making a real difference in the city. Clients have conveyed their relief at the new opening and the importance of having access to free in-person legal support.
One Support Through Court Client said after the new service supported them: “I liked the charity because the staff were very supportive, and the environment was welcoming. I was listened to, I was supported, overall I really got very good support.”
The partnership between the University, its School of Law student-volunteers and Support Through Court, a charity renowned for providing free legal support to people who cannot afford vital legal services, will allow essential work to continue in Birmingham.
“We’re delighted to have reopened the service here in Birmingham with the support of Birmingham City University. Clients are desperate for support – for many it’s a real relief that we’ve opened the service. We’re able to be a lifeline to those who are anxiously facing court with no knowledge of the system.”
Kerri Thompson, Support Through Court’s Regional Manager
The new partnership was launched at a recent event held at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre and was attended by volunteers from the service, supporters and members of the judiciary.
“This partnership means Support Through Court can continue to offer a lifeline to people facing court alone, meanwhile BCU School of Law students will gain an invaluable real-life experience of working with clients and also the satisfaction of knowing they are helping people in real need of support.”
Samantha Gargaro, Director of the BCU Law Clinic
Dani Sharma, a final-year School of Law student and one of the Support Through Court volunteers invited to the launch event to celebrate the re-opening of the in-person legal support service in Birmingham.
“Attending the launch event for the new in-person legal support service was extremely valuable and insightful. I was able to connect and interact with judges, practitioners, and fellow volunteers who shared specialist knowledge and their personal experiences in the legal field.”
Dani Sharma, School of Law student and Support Through Court Volunteer
The BCU Law Clinic is already home to the Support Through Court’s National Helpline providing over-the-phone legal support to people across the country. The newly launched court-based service only strengthens BCU’s partnership with the social justice charity.