This Christmas, the PSU, a charity that helps people facing court alone, has launched an appeal. It highlights the heart-warming case of Lucy, a mother fighting to get her two-year-old son back in the final few hours before the courts closed for Christmas last year.
Lucy* arrived at our PSU office feeling distressed and nervous. It was the afternoon of the 23rd December 2015 – the last day that the courts would be open before the Christmas break. She had come to see us about her two-year-old son, Liam*, who had been staying with relatives when her ex-partner had turned up and taken him away without permission.
Lucy was extremely worried as her ex-partner had little involvement in Liam’s life and there was a history of domestic abuse. He had broken into her property in the past and had recently been suicidal. Lucy had immediately contacted the police but discovered that, as the father had parental responsibility for the child, the police needed a court order that would give them permission to return Liam to her.
When we met Lucy, we listened to her story, making it clear we would do all we could to help her. We knew we needed to act quickly and liaised with the court staff to help her complete the forms she needed in order to secure a court hearing that day. Once the forms were completed and submitted most of the judges had already gone home for the holidays. Fortunately, a Deputy District Judge had been walking past the PSU on his way home. With the court staff we were able to convince him to stay and hold a hearing. We went with Lucy to the hearing to provide reassurance as by this point she was extremely upset.
In the end, the judge issued an order allowing the police to remove the child from his father and return him to Lucy. Understandably, Lucy burst into tears on hearing the news, overjoyed that she would be able to spend Christmas with her son.
* Names changed to protect client confidentiality
Almost half of us will use the justice system at some point in our lives. Imagine having to do it alone when you are fighting for your children’s custody or battling difficult personal circumstances like going through a divorce or facing eviction from your home.
The PSU needs to raise as much money as possible this Christmas to help meet the costs of a 20% increase in demand over the past year.
You can donate to the PSU’s Christmas appeal on their website: www.thepsu.org.uk between now and the end of January 2017.
The PSU CEO and the Nottingham unit Manager, can be contacted to arrange appointments, discuss volunteering opportunities or for general enquiries using the contact details above.