Women’s aid group receive support on Legal Aid changes

Mon 29th Apr 2013

An award-winning South West law firm has provided support to a women’s aid organisation following changes to Legal Aid.

Coodes Solicitors, which has seven offices across Cornwall and Devon, gave a talk to volunteers at West Cornwall Women’s Aid (WCWAid) in Penzance about the changes that came into effect on Monday, April 1.

WCWAid, which was founded in 1987, provides helpline, outreach and counselling services to women in West Cornwall and the Isles of Silly who are experiencing, or have experienced, domestic violence and abuse.

Coodes’ partner, Heather Stokes, who gave the presentation, said: “There is still a great deal of confusion about what the changes to Legal Aid actually mean to people in reality.

“It was great to have the opportunity to use our expertise and knowledge of the subject to provide support to this group of volunteers who do such an amazing job in very difficult circumstances.

“Our aim with the session was to give them the confidence and knowledge to support women who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse.”

The Government’s Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 reduced Legal Aid in many family matters from April 1.

Heather added: “There are still areas where it will be granted, notably public law Children Act proceedings, supporting mediation and any matter in which domestic abuse is an issue.”

The changes mean that Legal Aid will often only be granted if the alleged abuse can be proved in a specific way, including the provision of supporting evidence from a health professional.

A spokesperson for WCWAid said: “The session was so helpful, bringing a wealth of information and insight that was delivered in a calm, sure and accessible way as to allay any incipient anxiety about the changes.

“It bought clarity to a complex subject and there is no substitute for working with specific guidelines when operating within the law.

Not for transmission or publication without express permission of the copyright owner, Simon Burt

For more information please call Heather Stokes at Coodes Solicitors on 01736 362294

Mon 29th Apr 2013

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