Volunteering opportunities for Kent law students with SATEDA Support2Court Project

By Kent Law Clinic Solicitor Philippa Bruce

A new partnership between Kent Law Clinic and SATEDA (Support & Action To End Domestic Abuse) gives law students (in Stages 2/3/4) the opportunity to train as volunteers supporting victims of domestic abuse.

Based in Swale and Medway, students will join SATEDA’s Support2Court project and receive relevant training from Rights of Women on how to support victims who wish to apply for family law injunctions and orders about their children.

As the Family Solicitor in the Clinic, I am particularly excited about this project. Not only is it an opportunity to help victims of domestic abuse, but it is also a very real chance for students to experience first-hand what is going on in the Family Court at present.

The issue of how the Family Court deals with domestic abuse is a topic that I have spent a lot of time thinking about recently. I have spoken with many interested law students about how difficult it is to go to Court without a lawyer, and discussed at length how the modern day Family Court is under immense pressure. Pressure to deal with cases judicially but also swiftly.

The legal landscape of the Family Court has been redrawn in recent years due to the cuts in legal aid and a reemphasis on a presumption in favour of a child maintaining a relationship with both parents. This has led some (including me) to question whether this has impacted upon the way in which the Family Court deals with domestic abuse allegations. Are allegations taken seriously? Is the relevance of historic domestic abuse understood by the Court?

I will be very keen work with students involved in the Support2Court project, in particular, to hear about their experiences of going to Court. This will form part of an overarching theme for the Clinic’s 2019-20 Family Law Team who will be considering in detail how the Family Court is coping with the increased pressures and demands it faces.

At the start of term I will send out more information about SATEDA’s Support2Court Project so please subscribe to the Law Clinic’s email list: kls-clinic@kent.ac.uk – you can subscribe to this list at: http://lists.kent.ac.uk (if you’re a new student, you’ll be able to subscribe after you’ve arrived and registered at Kent).

I will also be looking for new members for the Family Law Team. So again, once you’ve subscribed to the mailing list, you can keep an eye out for details on how to get involved.