Where to go for more help and advice

Help Directory

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Introduction

There are lots of different ways you can get legal advice to help deal with a problem.

If you live on a low income or benefits, Civil Legal Advice may be able to give you free legal advice about:

  • debt, if your home is at risk
  • housing, for example, if you are homeless or at risk of being evicted, serious disrepair or harrassment
  • domestic violence or abuse
  • separating from an abusive partner, when you’re making arrangements for children or sorting out money and property
  • family issues, for example, family mediation, some child abduction cases, forced marriage or if your child is being taken into care
  • some immigration and asylum cases
  • special education needs
  • some mental health issues
  • discrimination.

Telephone: 0345 345 4 345. Minicom: 0345 609 6677. Open Monday to Friday 09:00 – 20:00 and Saturday 09:00 -12:30pm. You can also text ‘legalaid’ and your name to 80010 to get a call back. This costs the same as a normal text message. There is a free translation service if English is not your first language. And you can book a British Sign Language interpreter if you are deaf or hard of hearing.

For more detailed information about the kinds of cases you can get legal aid for see: Legal aid and advice.

You may be able to get free advice from an advice centre, a Citizens Advice Bureau or Law Centre. Some advice and law centres can help with lots of different problems, others just deal with one particular area like housing, discrimination, benefits, or money problems. If you can't see someone face-to face, an advice centre may be able to advise you over the phone or by email. See: Find an Advice Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau below.

If you are a member of a Trades Union you may have access to free or discounted legal services as part of your membership. Check your Union's website for details.

Check your motor, household contents and buildings insurance policies. You may find you have access to free legal advice on a range of subjects as part of your cover.

If you need representation because you are going to court, have a look at the Going to Court section of this website for information about where to find this.

Your local library or council offices should be able to tell you about the advice services in your area. Or you can find details in the Yellow Pages or the local phone book.

March 2017
Benefits and tax credits

For help with benefits or tax credits, contact your local advice agency or Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

AdviceUK is a network of advice centres. You can search for your nearest advice centre here: AdviceUK - looking for advice? 

Citizens Advice is the national body for Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Scroll down their homepage to search for a CAB near you. Citizens Advice also runs a national phone service. Adviceline is fully operational in Wales for people who live or work there - call 03444 77 20 20. In England the service is currently being rolled out. If it is not yet available in your area, you will hear options for recorded information: call 03444 111 444.

Gingerbread provides support and advice on benefit and tax credit issues. Call: 0808 802 0925. Open Mondays, 10am to 6pm, Wednesdays, 10am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm and Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays, 10am to 4pm. The helpline is closed on all public holidays.

LawWorks connects people in need of legal advice and assistance with lawyers willing to meet those needs for free. It supports 170 legal advice clinics across England and Wales. The majority of these law clinics take place in the evening and provide free initial advice with a particular focus on social welfare issues, employment law, housing matters and consumer disputes. You can find a clinic here: LawWorks clinics network.

Shelter has a search facility on their website which you can use to find local services in England that provide advice on benefits, care and health needs, housing and debt: Shelter - Advice finder.

Consumer problems

You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for free, confidential advice on consumer issues. Open Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00. Telephone: 03454 04 05 06. You can talk to a Welsh-speaking adviser on 03454 04 05 05. For information about how to contact the consumer service online or (in limited circumstances) by post, see: Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

Council tax problems

If you’re liable for council tax, you may be able to get help with your bill through your local council tax support scheme, or may qualify for an exemption or discount.

counciltaxhelp is designed to help you find details of the support available to you locally. Information about your rights and entitlements and details of independent advice organisations in your area who can help you get the help that you need. Just type in your postcode and see what's available in your area.

Debt problems

Debt Advice Foundation can give you advice about your debt problems over the phone. Telephone: 0800 043 40 50. Open Monday to Friday 08:00 – 20:00, Saturday 09:00 – 15:00. If you are calling from a mobile, let the advisor know and they will call you back.

The Money Advice Service runs a Money Advice Line on 0800 138 7777 (in English) or 0800 138 0555 (in Welsh). Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. Saturday, 9am to 1pm. Sunday and Bank Holidays, closed. Alternatively you can email enquiries@moneyadviceservice.org.uk or go to their website for their Web chat service.

National Debtline can give you advice and information about debt problems. Telephone: 0808 808 4000. Open Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 9.30am-1pm. Alternatively go to their website to email them or for their Web chat service.

StepChange Debt Charity can give you free, confidential advice about debt problems. Telephone: 0800 138 1111. Open Monday to Friday 8am–8pm, Saturday 8am–4pm. Alternatively go to their website to email them or for their Live chat service.

Discrimination, equality and human rights

The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) helpline advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights, across England, Scotland and Wales. Telephone: 0808 800 0082 Textphone: 0808 800 0084. Open Monday to Friday 9am-7pm, Saturday 10am-2pm. They offer a Live Chat service via their website.

Liberty gives advice on human rights. You can call their advice line on 0845 123 2307 or 020 3145 0461. If you are calling from a mobile the “020” number may be the cheaper one to use. The line is open: Monday 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm, Wednesday 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm and Thursday 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm. Alternatively you can send in a written query using the form on their website under 'Get advice'.

Mind provides legal information and general advice on mental health related law covering mental health, mental capacity, community care and human rights and discrimination/equality related to mental health issues. You can contact the Legal Line by calling 0300 466 6463 between 11am and 2pm Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays) or write to Mind Legal Line, Unit 9, Cefn Coed Parc, Nantgarw, Cardiff CF15 7QQ.

Domestic violence and abuse

For support or to discuss your options you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or in Wales, Live Fear Free on 0808 80 10 800. Both help lines are free, confidential, open 24 hours and are for anyone who is experiencing, or has experienced domestic abuse, or for anyone who is worried about domestic abuse happening to a friend, family member or colleague. You can also contact the Live Fear Free helpline by email: info@livefearfreehelpline.wales or the live chat service on their website. The National Domestic Violence Helpline offers translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation. Call: 0800 970 2070. Alternatively you can text: NCDV to 60777 and they will call you back. 

Men's advice line: If you are a man and experiencing domestic violence or abuse you can contact the Men's advice line on: 0808 801 0327. Open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm. If your first language isn't English, they can arrange access to a telephone interpreter. You can also email them at: info@mensadviceline.org.uk or go to their website for their Web chat service. 

Dyn Wales provides support to heterosexual, gay, bisexual and trans men who are experiencing domestic abuse from a partner. Call 0808 801 0321. Line open Monday and Tuesday, 10am – 4pm, Wednesday, 10am – 1pm. You can also email them at: support@dynwales.org.

Galop provides confidential support to all members of the LGBT communities experiencing domestic abuse, hate crime or sexual violence. Call: 0800 999 5428 (0800 numbers are free from landlines and included in some mobile provider inclusive minutes). Open Monday and Thursday 10am - 8pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 10am - 5pm and Friday 1pm - 5pm. You can also email them at: help@galop.org.uk.

The Forced Marriage Unit runs a helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage. A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. If you are worried you might be forced into marriage or are worried about a friend or relative, you can call the Forced Marriage Unit on 0207 008 0151 (or +44 (0) 20 7008 0151 if you are calling from outside the UK) or emailfmu@fco.gov.uk.

Education

ACE Education Advice & Training provides independent advice and information for parents on education issues in England. See: Advisory Centre for Education - education adviceIf you are the parent or carer of a child at school and you would like to talk to an adviser you can call the confidential telephone adviceline on 0300 0115 142. Open Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 1pm. Term time only.

Child Law Advice provides specialist advice and information on child, family and education law to people living in England. For education law, call 0300 330 5485. Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Contact a family run the Special Educational Needs (SEN) national advice service. Their education specialist advisers are available from Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.00pm to answer your query. Call 0808 808 3555, or post a query on Facebook. They can help with any aspect of education in England and Wales.

Coram Children's Legal Centre provides an education law advice and representation service to children and young people, parents and carers. See: Coram Children's Legal Centre - education legal practice. Common areas of advice include types of school, admissions, exclusions and Special Educational Needs. 
The service is only available for people who are eligible for Legal Aid - if you are unsure whether you are eligible Coram Children's Legal Centre can carry out a means assessment with you over the phone. Call an adviser on 0345 345 4345 and follow the instructions. Open Mondays to Fridays 9.00am - 8.00pm and Saturdays from 9.00am - 12.30pm.

Disability Rights UK provides advice to disabled students studying in England. Call: 0800 328 5050. Line open Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am to 1pm. Or email: students@disabilityrightsuk.org For details see: Disabled Students Helpline

Independent Parental Special Education Advice (known as IPSEA) offers free and independent information, advice and support to help get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. For details of their free services and how to book a telephone appointment see: Independent Parental Special Education Advice - advice and support.

Snap Cymru provides information, advice and support to families in Wales in relation to the special educational needs of their children and young people. You can call their information and advice line on 0845 120 3730 from a landline or 0345 120 3730 from a mobile or email them at: helpline@snapcymru.org. Line open Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4.30pm. 

Environmental problems

The Environmental Law Foundation helps socially and economically disadvantaged communities to be heard on matters affecting the environment in which they live. Typical issues involve air and water quality, noise pollution, threats to wildlife habitat and biodiversity, use of public open spaces and threats to those spaces.

The Foundation provides free information and advice via in-house and university based law clinics, and a network of specialist environmental lawyers and technical experts.

Call: 0330 123 0169. Line open from 8am to 8pm Mondays to Fridays, and 9am to 5pm Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. 

Family problems

Both Parents Matter Cymru runs monthly support meetings and with Law Works Cymru and support from local solicitors provides free legal clinics across Wales. Helpline: 08456 004446. Open Monday to Friday, 10am - 7pm.

Coram Children's Legal Centre provides a child and family law service to children, their families and carers in England. Common areas of advice include local authority duties towards children and young people, care proceedings, child protection issues and residence and contact. Call: 0300 330 5480Open Monday to Friday, 8am - 6pm. They cannot advise you if you have a lawyer already. You can also book a callback from a member of their legal team, which is a paid-for service. 

Families Need Fathers offers support and a listening ear to dads, mums, grandparents and other members of the family. Call: 0300 0300 363. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 10pm and 10am to 3pm at weekends. They also provide factsheets and online support through forums.

If your family is involved with local authority children's services, or you need help from these services, then the Family Rights Group can give you information about what the law says and what procedures should be followed, discuss your options and support you to make realistic choices. Call: 0808 801 0366. Open Monday to Friday, 9.30am-3.00pm, excluding Bank Holidays.


The Family Law Panel (FLP)  offers members of the public an intial information service  free of charge. This gives families the ability to better understand their situation and be fully briefed on their options for moving forward. The Panel also offers a "reduced fees scheme" for individuals earning (as a guide) less than £20,000 per year and with less than £20,000 in accessible savings. Professionals offering advice under this scheme at around £125 per hour (plus VAT) and can be identified on the website by a green disc.

Gingerbread offers support and expert advice on anything from dealing with a break-up, to going back to work or sorting out maintenance, benefits or tax credit issues. Call: 0808 802 0925. Open Mondays, 10am to 6pm, Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays, 10am to 4pm and Wednesdays, 10am-1pm and 5pm-7pm. Closed on public holidays. If you do not speak English as a first language, Gingerbread can call you back with an interpreter. Phone the helpline and tell the adviser which language you need and your phone number. They also provide lots of information and support forums on their website.

Grandparents Plus provides advice, information and support to grandparents. If you've lost (or are losing) contact with your grandchildren, you can call the Grandparent Contact Helpline 0300 033 7015If you're looking after a relative's child, you can call the Family and Friends Advice Line on 0300 123 7015 or email advice@grandparentsplus.org.uk.

Resolution (formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association) is an organisation that believes in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law problems. If you are trying to deal with a problem like a divorce, how to make arrangements for your children or sort out your finances when you separate, you may want to speak to a solicitor who is a member of Resolution. You can search for a member here: Find a Resolution member (for family law).

Rights of Women offers free, confidential legal advice for women in England and Wales on family law (for example, about domestic violence and abuse, divorce, cohabitation, finances and property on relationship breakdown, parental responsibility and arrangements for children and lesbian parenting). For women in England and Wales, call: 020 7251 6577. Line open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7pm to 9pm, Fridays 12pm to 2pm. For women in London, call: 020 7608 1137. Line open Mondays 11am to 1pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm to 4pm.

Reunite International offers advice, information and support concerning all issues related to international parental child abduction, prevention of abduction, international contact issues, and cases of permission to remove a child from the UK. Call: 0116 2556 234. When calling from outside the UK add +44 and remove the '0'. Line open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.00pm. If you have an emergency situation outside these times call the advice line and you will be directed to the 24hr emergency service.

Health and social care problems

Action on Elder Abuse runs a confidential freephone helpline, which provides information, advice and support to victims and others who are concerned about or have witnessed abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. This helpline is available throughout the UK. Call: 080 8808 8141. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Your call will not show up on your phone bill.

The Disability Law Service provides free legal advice to people with disabilities and their carers about community care law. Call: 0207 791 9800Examples of the types of case they can advise on include:

  • Assessments of need
  • Charges for care
  • Right to dignity
  • Legal issues relating to problems with independent living services
  • Residential care
  • Funding for care
  • Cuts to services
  • Continuing Health Care
  • Disabled Facilities Grant / adaptations to the home
  • Direct Payments / Personal Budgets.

The Maternity Care Access Advice Service provides telephone and email advice and online information to help women get the maternity care they need, to advise women on whether they have to pay for their NHS maternity care and to help women to deal with problems relating to charging. All calls are free of charge and telephone interpreting is available. The service is confidential. Call: 0808 800 0041 (Freephone) on Thursdays between 10am-12 noon only.

If you are elderly, disabled or have an illness, you may be able to get help with your social care needs, including help from your local council. socialcareinfo is a tool designed to help you find details of the support available to you locally; national information about your rights and entitlements; and details of independent advice organisations in your area who can help you get the help that you need. Just type in your postcode and see what's available in your area.

Solicitors For the Elderly is an independent, national organisation of lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers, and chartered legal executives who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers. You can search for an accredited member of their organisation on their website.

Housing problems

Shelter (England) gives advice over the phone about housing problems. Call: 0808 800 4444. Open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, Saturday/Sunday 8am-5pm, 365 days a year. Calls are free from UK landlines and all major UK mobile operators. In some circumstances you can get advice by email - go to their website for details. There's also a 'chat with us' service on their website.

Shelter (England) also has 17 advice centres where you can get personal, face to face advice. For details and to speak to someone about your nearest centre, you can call the Shelter Support Helpdesk on 0300 330 1234 or see: Shelter advice centres. They also offer Advice Finder - a directory to help you find local advice services that can help you in person.

Shelter Cymru can advise on housing problems if you live in Wales. Call: 0345 075 5005. Open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm. You can also contact them for advice by filling in and submitting an online form available on their website. Shelter Cymru also runs advice surgeries across Wales. To find out when there is an adviser in your area, see: Shelter Cymru - advice near you.

You can find a lawyer that specialises in housing law here: Find a housing lawyer.

Immigration, asylum and nationality

The AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) may be able to help you if you have a query concerning EU law on the free movement of people (for example, you are a migrant from another European Union Member State, or a family member of a citizen of another European Union Member State, and you have a question about your residence status or right to access benefits) or you have a query about making an application to the European Court of Human Rights. To find out if the centre can help you, you can either email: info@airecentre.org or call 020 7831 4276. Open Monday to Friday, 10:30 - 18:00. For more information see,: The AIRE Centre - legal advice.

Asylum Aid provides free, one-off legal advice for asylum seekers, refugees, and individuals or organisations who work to support them. Call: 020 7354 9264. Lines are only open on Tuesdays, between 1-4pm. For more information about the circumstances in which they may be able to represent you, see: Get advice from Asylum Aid.

Asylum Help UK can advise you about claiming asylum, the asylum process, asylum support, accessing healthcare and any other asylum issues. They can advise you, for free, in your language from anywhere in the UK. Call: 0808 8000 630. Open Monday to Friday, 08:30 - 17:30.

Asylum Justice provides free legal services to asylum seekers and refugees in Wales in cases where legal aid is not available. Call: 029 2049 9421 or email: info@asylumjustice.org.ukOpen drop-in sessions are held every Monday at the City United Reformed Church in Windsor Place, Cardiff (CF10 3BZ) between 6 and 8.30pm. Please make sure you take all relevant paperwork with you (for example, Home Office papers, papers from the Tribunal, letters from legal representative(s)).

The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) specialises in asylum support appeals and gives free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers at the First Tier Tribunal (Asylum Support). This is called the ASAP Duty Scheme. If you are an asylum seeker, have an appeal at the Asylum Support Tribunal and need help on the day of your hearing, you can complete this form and fax it to them: Self-referral to the Asylum Support Appeals Project.

Bail for Immigration Detainees helps people in immigration detention (whether in prison or a removal centre) by advising them how to apply for bail. To contact them, call: 020 7456 9750. Line open Monday to Thursday, 10am to 12 noon. You can leave a message outside these times. You can also send a fax to: 0203 745 5226 or email: casework@biduk.org

If you are detained in an Immigration Removal Centre you can ask for a free, 30 minute appointment with a solicitor from one of the legal aid firms visiting your removal centre. There will be a number of firms visiting on a rota basis, meaning that different lawyers visit each week. You can find information about the current rotas and how to make an appointment here: Information for detainees - how can I find an immigration lawyer?

The Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA) has a directory of their members on their website. You can search this to find an immigration adviser near you: ILPA directory.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants only provides free, confidential legal advice in very limited circumstances:

  • If you are in the UK without documentation (an 'undocumented migrant') call: 020 7553 7470. Line open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am to 1pm.
  • If you are in prison and need immigration advice you can call their free and confidential helpline on: 020 7553 7468. Open every Wednesday 10am to 11am
  • If you are a member of the trades union UNISON, you can get free initial advice on all aspects of immigration law. Contact the union and ask them to get in touch with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants on your behalf to arrange a phone call. 

Other than the services outlined above the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants provides representation for those eligible for legal aid and a fee based service for those who are not eligible. See their website for details.

Kalayaan gives free employment and immigration advice to migrant domestic workers in the UK, for example, if you have a problem with your employer, you have left an employer who is keeping your passport, or you just want to understand more about your rights. Call: 020 7243 2942 to make an appointment.

The Law Society has a directory which you can search for solicitors approved by them under the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme: Immigration and asylum advice.

The Migrants Resource Centre offers free one-off advice to individual migrants, refugees & asylum seekers and to any organisations working with them. Call: 020 7354 9264 or email: advice@migrants.org.uk. Check the website for latest opening hours. The Centre also runs the Immigration and Nationality Advice Service (INAS) - a fee paying service set up in response to funding cuts for immigration advice. The service enables the Centre to continue providing immigration advice to those who are no longer eligible for free immigration advice. Advice is available in community languages. To make an appointmentcall: 0207 354 9631.

The Migrant Children’s Project advice line offers free and confidential legal advice on the rights of migrant children and young people and issues affecting them, including children who are separated and those in families. Call 0207 636 8505. Open Tuesday to Thursday, 10am - 4pm, or email mcp@coramclc.org.uk.

The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) regulates immigration advisers. You can find a regulated immigration adviser here: Find an immigration adviser or call OISC on 0345 000 0046.

The Refugee Council provides help and support to asylum seekers and refugees: Refugee Council - How can we help you? 

Rights of Women offers free, confidential legal advice for women in England and Wales on immigration and asylum law (for example, about the rights of Europeans and their families in the UK, claiming asylum, trafficking, domestic violence and immigration law).
Call: 020 7490 7689. Open Monday and Thursday 10am to 4pm. You can find more details about this immigration law line here: Rights of Women - get advice (immigration and asylum law) 

UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group provides advice for lesbian and gay asylum seekers but only if you are already in the UK. Telephone: 020 7922 7811. You can also find a list of solicitors on their website who provide immigration and asylum advice and who are affiliated to the organisation.

Injuries and accidents

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) provides free and confidential advice and support to people affected by medical accidents. Call: 0845 123 2352. Line open Monday to Friday, 10am - 3.30pm.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) campaigns to change the law, protect and enhance access to justice, and improve the services provided for people who have been injured in road accidents, accidents at work or medical accidents. You can search for the best injury lawyer for you on their website or call: 0115 958 0585


Mental capacity and mental health

Mind provides legal information and general advice on mental health related law covering mental health, mental capacity, community care and human rights and discrimination/equality related to mental health issues. You can contact the Legal Line by calling 0300 466 6463 between 11am and 2pm Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays) or write to Mind Legal Line, Unit 9, Cefn Coed Parc, Nantgarw, Cardiff CF15 7QQ.

The Law Society's Mental Health Accreditation Scheme can help you find a lawyer who is competent in mental health law. You can download a list of currently accredited scheme members from here: Mental Health Accreditation Scheme.

Pension problems

The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) gives people free, professional, independent and impartial help with their pensions. They can give information and guidance on pension matters and act as mediators in disputes involving public or private pension schemes or policies.

Their pension helplines are open from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. They are closed on public holidays.

Pensions Helpline

0300 123 1047

Helpline for Self Employed 

0345 602 7021

Live web chat is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (and 7pm to 9pm on Tuesdays).

Alternatively you can write to:

The Pensions Advisory Service
11 Belgrave Road
London
SW1V 1RB

The Pension Advisory Service also offers an appointment service for people who are thinking about getting a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership and are worried about what impact it will have on their pension. The service is provided over the phone or by e-mail, and can be booked by e-mailing virtual.appointments@pensionadvisoryservice.org.uk

Appointments can be booked between 9.00am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. 

Planning problems

Planning Aid England runs a free advice service offering a limited amount of general advice on planning related issues in England. Email: advice@planningaid.rtpi.org.uk

Planning Aid Wales offers a free advice service to assist members of the public and community groups needing help with a planning matter. The Helpline service provides three different levels of assistance – information, advice or support. The level of service available depends on the eligibility of the person, group or business seeking assistance. Call: 02920 625000. Line open 10.00am to 1.30pm, Monday to Thursday. You can also access the service online or by post. Check the website for details. 

Problems at work

ACAS - Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service offers free advice and guidance on rights at work and employment law. Helpline number: 0300 123 1100. Line open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8am-8pm, Tuesday and Friday 8am-6pm. You can also contact the helpline using Text Relay by dialling: 18001 0300 123 1100. You can get helpline support in any language - just tell the person you talk to what language you prefer to speak.

The Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit provides legal representation to victims of trafficking and labour exploitation. They can take on immigration, housing and compensation cases from across England and Wales related to these issues. They only take on cases referred by other agencies. So if you, or someone you know has been trafficked or is a victim of slavery, your local advice centre or community organisation should be able to help with referral.

The Disability Law Service provides free legal advice to people with disabilities and their carers about employment law. Call: 0207 791 9800.

If you need representation at an employment tribunal, you may be eligible for help from the Free Representation Unit if your case is listed for a final hearing of one or two days and is being heard in London or the South East of England. You can contact the Free Representation Unit on: 020 7611 9555.

Maternity Action offers advice and information to help you understand and take up your rights and entitlements throughout your pregnancy, maternity leave and return to work. Contact the Maternity Rights Advice Line on: 0808 802 0029.  For advice about NHS charges and access to maternity care, contact the Maternity Care Access Advice Line on: 0808 800 0041.

Public Concern at Work provides independent and confidential legal advice to workers who are worried about wrong-doing at work and about whether or how to blow the whistle. Advice line: 020 7404 6609.

Working Families advises parents and carers about their employment rights including maternity and paternity leave, rights to time off in an emergency, parental leave and flexible working. They can also advise on benefits for families. You can call their Legal Helpline on 0300 012 0312 or email them at: advice@workingfamilies.org.uk. Open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 10am - 12 noon and Friday 1pm - 3pm. Also open on Mondays 5pm - 6pm.

Tax problems

TaxAid helps people on a low income with a tax problem if HMRC can't sort it out. As a guideline, a low income is up to about £380 a week before tax for a single person – equivalent to £20,000 per year. TaxAid does not advise on tax credits, council tax, welfare benefits, corporation tax or give tax planning advice. Helpline: 0345 120 3779. Open Monday to Friday, 10am - 12 midday.

If you are on low income, not self employed and aged 60 or over, you can contact Tax Help for Older People. Call: 01308 488066 or 0845 6013321. (Calls to the 0845 number will cost 5ppm plus your phone providers access charge.) Lines open Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm or you can email them at: taxvol@taxvol.org.uk. Alternatively you can write to them at:

Tax Help for Older People
Unit 10, Pineapple Business Park
Salway Ash
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Find an advice centre or Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

AdviceUK is a network of advice centres. You can search for your nearest advice centre here: AdviceUK - looking for advice? 

Citizens Advice is the national body for Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Scroll down their homepage to search for a CAB near you. Citizens Advice also runs a national phone service. Adviceline is fully operational in Wales for people who live or work there - call 03444 77 20 20. In England the service is currently being rolled out. If it is not yet available in your area, you will hear options for recorded information: call 03444 111 444.

LawWorks connects people in need of legal advice and assistance with lawyers willing to meet those needs for free. It supports 170 legal advice clinics across England and Wales. The majority of these law clinics take place in the evening and provide free initial advice to individuals with a particular focus on social welfare issues, employment law, housing matters and consumer disputes. You can find a clinic here: LawWorks clinics network 

Shelter has a search facility on their website which you can use to find local services in England that provide advice on housing, debt, benefits, care and health needs: Shelter - Advice finder.

Find a lawyer

Solicitors

For some legal problems, you may need the help of a solicitor. Different solicitors specialise in different legal problems. You should always try to get a solicitor who specialises in dealing with problems like yours.

You can search for a solicitor on the Law Society website here: Find a solicitor in England and Wales.

You can also search for a solicitor in your area here: Find a legal aid adviser or family mediator.

Law Centres are staffed by both solicitors and other workers who specialise in helping people with employment, immigration, education, housing, community care, and benefit problems. Law Centres usually only help people who work or live in their area. Find a Law Centre near you.

Barristers

Some barristers take queries or cases direct from members of the public. They are called ‘public access’ barristers. The Bar Council has a directory of public access barristers on its website, at: Public access to barristers. If you need help using this service, you can email them at: MemberServices@BarCouncil.org.uk or phone them on 0207 611 1472. If you don’t use the internet, you can phone the Bar Council on 020 7242 0082 and ask them for help finding the right barrister for you.

Advice services for particular groups of people

There are lots of charities and other organisations who run advice services for particular groups of people, for example:

  • Age UK provides information and advice to older people, and their friends and relatives. You can find your local Age UK service here: Find your local Age UK service or contact Age UK Advice on 0800 678 1174. Line open 365 days a year.
  • Age Cymru Advice provides information and advice to older people, and their relatives, friends and carers in Wales. You can contact Age Cymru Advice and talk to someone in Welsh or English on 08000 223 444. Line open Monday to Friday. 9am to 5pm.
  • The Disability Law Service provides free legal advice over the telephone about employment and community care to people with disabilities and their carers.
  • The Eastern European Advice Centre provides free advice to Central and Eastern European migrants. For initial advice call: 0800 121 4226. Alternatively you can emailinfo@eeac.org.uk.
  • Gingerbread provides services for single parents. Their Single Parent Helpline provides support and advice on dealing with a break-up, going back to work, sorting out maintenance, and benefit or tax credit issues. Call: 0808 802 0925. Open Mondays, 10am to 6pm, Wednesdays, 10am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm and Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays, 10am to 4pm. The helpline is closed on all public holidays.
  • Gypsies and Travellers and their families can get legal advice from Friends Families and Travellers - a national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background - about planning, education, accommodation, health and discrimination issues. Call: 01273 234777 Line open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4.30pm.
  • Mind has services for people with mental health problems.
  • The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society funds the MS legal advice line to provide free confidential legal advice to people affected by MS in England and Wales on employment, disability discrimination, community care and welfare benefits. Call: 020 7791 9800 or email: msadvice@dls.org.uk.
  • National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) offers a specialist legal service for children, young people and vulnerable adults in the areas of family law, community care law, education law and public law. For infomation about how to contact the service, see NYAS legal services or call: 0808 808 1001. Line open Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm or email to help@nyas.net.
  • The Prisoners' Advice Service offers free legal advice and support to adult prisoners in England and Wales. You can get in touch with them:

    By calling:

    Tel 1: 0845 430 8923
    Tel 2: 020 7253 3323
    Fax: 020 7253 8067

    By emailing: advice@prisonersadvice.org.uk

    By writing to:

    Prisoners’ Advice Service
    PO Box 46199
    London
    EC1M 4XA
  • The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can help you with benefits appeals, community care issues and challenge discrimination relating to sight loss. This can include taking cases to court or tribunal. They can also advise you if you are the relative or carer of someone with sight loss, and need help to support them. Telephone 0303 123 9999. Line open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pmYou can also email: legalrights@ rnib.org.uk.
  • RNIB Cymru works with Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, Deafblind Cymru and Sense Cymru to provide information, advice and support to people with sensory loss in Wales. They can check that you are getting the benefits and concessions that you are entitled to, arrange for any benefit application forms to be completed for you, support you through the claim process and help you challenge complex benefit decisions. Call: 0333 323 0227, Fax: 01492 534809, Text Relay: 18001 0333 323 0227, SMS: 07860 052917, or email: RAISE@rnib.org.uk.
  • Students' Unions - if you are a student, your student union may run a student advice centre that provides information, advice and in some circumstances representation. Check your student union website for details.
  • Working Families provides services for people who work and care for children. Their Legal Helpline gives parents and carers advice on employment rights such as maternity and paternity leave, rights to time off in an emergency, and parental leave, as well as helping them to negotiate the flexible hours they want. Call: 0300 012 0312 or email: advice@workingfamilies.org.uk.
  • Youth Access – you can use their website to search for services that provide information, advice, counselling and support to young people in your area: Find your local service for young people
Get help if you are representing yourself in court or tribunal

If you are representing yourself in court or at a tribunal (someone doing this is often called a Litigant in Person), or thinking of it, there may be free help and advice you can get at different stages of your case. Here we explain what each service can help you with and how you can access them.

What kind of help do you need?

There are different kinds of organisations offering different kinds of help. We know it's incredibly frustrating when you can't find help or finally get an appointment only to realise the person you are speaking to can't help you in the way you had hoped. So here's our explanation of the types of help you may be able to get. If you are thinking of taking a case to court or tribunal, different types of help are likely to be helpful at different times. 

When we say an organisation offers legal advice we mean that they have specialist knowledge and can provide advice about your specific case, help you work out if it's worth taking it to court, and explain court procedures, and rules.  

By representation, we mean that somebody can come with you to your court or tribunal hearing and speak on your behalf.

When we say an organisation offers emotional support we mean that they can provide someone to talk to and someone to come to court with you to support you.

By practical advice we mean that they can help you with practical tasks that don’t require in-depth specialist legal knowledge – for example, they can help you organise your papers and your thoughts, explain what happens in court, and refer you to legal advice agencies.

Information is general guidance – often as leaflets, websites or short films. It can explain processes, or the law, and the best information can help you work out what to do, and how to do it, but is not tailored to your exact situation. 

Who can help?

Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau

You can get free legal advice from the RCJ Advice Bureau if you are involved in a civil or family case in the County Court, High Court or Court of Appeal across England and Wales. Their solicitors can give legal advice on things like how to complete forms, what steps to take, and how to reply to court papers. They can also arrange mediation or representation if needed. 

If you live in London, you can book an appointment to see one of their solicitors at either the Royal Courts of Justice or the Central London Family Court.

If you live outside of London they can provide legal advice on the phone or by email. Please contact the appointment line for details.

Phone the appointment line on 0203 475 4373 Monday to Friday 10am – 1pm. They will assess your advice needs and either make an appointment for you or give you details of who else can help you.  

They can also provide help if you have permission to appeal to the High Court. You can contact the team by email civilappeal@rcjadvice.org.uk

If you prefer, you can visit the RCJ Advice Bureau in person between 2pm – 4pm Monday to Friday to book an appointment.

For civil cases, please visit us at:

The RCJ Advice Bureau
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

For all family law issues, please visit us at:

Central London Family Courts
4th Floor, First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn
London
WC1V 6NP

For more information see Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau.

The Personal Support Unit

You can get practical advice, information and emotional support from volunteers at the Personal Support Unit if there is a Personal Support Unit service at the court you are using. PSU volunteers can accompany you to your court hearing, but they cannot represent you and cannot provide legal advice.

Find out if there is a PSU service in the court you are using here: Our PSUs

You can make an appointment in advance or simply drop in on the day of your hearing; a PSU volunteer can usually see you immediately.

If your hearing is in a London county court or tribunal where there is no PSU office, you can contact PSU in advance to book a volunteer to come with you. Call: 020 7073 4760 or email LondonService@thepsu.org.uk. It is best to give at least two weeks’ notice. The service depends on volunteer availability so the more notice you can give, the more likely they are to be able to help.

You can also get practical help before your hearing at their office in the Royal Courts of Justice – call: 020 7947 7701/03 to book an appointment. See: The London service from the PSU for further details.   

The Bar Pro Bono Unit

The Bar Pro Bono Unit can help find you a barrister who can provide free legal advice, help with forms, and representation at court. They can help with any legal issue as long as you are not eligible for legal aid and don't have enough money to pay for legal help.

To access the service, you need someone from a Citizens Advice Bureau, Law Centre, advice agency, MP or a practising lawyer to refer you.

You need to send a completed application form (on paper, not email) at least three weeks before the hearing or deadline for the piece of work you want help with. You can find information about how to apply here: Bar Pro Bono Unit - do you need help?

The Bar Pro Bono Unit finds barristers to assist you with a particular task in your case. So if your application is successful, you will receive help to do a specific task. After that, if you need further help you can apply again, providing at least three weeks' notice. Because they rely on volunteers, they cannot guarantee to find someone to help you, but they will do their best. 

LawWorks

LawWorks supports over 200 advice clinics that provide free initial legal advice to individuals on various areas of law including social welfare issues, employment law, housing matters and consumer disputes. If you are thinking of taking a case to court, get advice first. A clinic will be able to advise you of other possible options, if it is worth it, and what your first steps might be. Some clinics may also be able to draft a letter for you.

See if there is a clinic near you here: LawWorks clinics network

See their guidance on what you should take with you to an appointment here: What to bring to a legal advice clinic

Advicenow

Advicenow produces free high-quality guides for people representing themselves that explain what you need to do and, most importantly, show you how to do it. Our guides also explain all the legal terms and help with the skills and confidence you need. We don’t have guides to help with every issue but we add more resources as often as we can. 

Our Top Picks Service also provides handpicked links to the best help available elsewhere on the web. You are on our website now. Go back to the Going to court section to see our most useful resources for people representing themselves at court or tribunal. 

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