Behind the scenes with Next Link

Next Link, a wonderful Bristol based domestic abuse support service, kindly helped us at Law for Life when making our new film that helps victims of domestic abuse apply to the Family Court for protection.

Legal aid is still available for applications to the Family Court for non-molestation orders, often called injunctions. But, staff at Next Link and other domestic abuse organisations are finding that often their clients are not eligible. This can be due to income from work but more often is due to income from benefits such as working tax and child tax credits. This leaves (mainly) women unable to get publicly funded legal advice from a specialist solicitor when they need it most.

The aim of our project was to create a film that would explain to viewers how to find free legal advice about domestic abuse if they possible can, and help those who can’t by guiding them through the application form for an injunction. We were able to deliver this project thanks to funding from FLOWS at RCJ Advice and the Family Justice Council.

Next Link staff were really enthusiastic and supportive of our aims and gave us their valuable perspective on what women struggle with when asking the Family Court for protection from abuse by a partner or family member.

In the first stage of the project Next Link gave us invaluable comments on what their clients would find particularly helpful in a film about applying for a non-molestation order, such as ideas on what words clients tend to use when searching online about domestic abuse. They also voiced concerns about how once they understand the process, clients often feel overwhelmed and this puts them off. This meant that the content needed to be detailed enough to help women take action but broken down into manageable bits to avoid women being so stressed that they were totally put off from the process.

We were then able to go away and work hard on the script and feed in their ideas. The funding criteria meant that the film had to focus on how to fill out the form that anyone applying for a non-molestation order must wade their way through before a Judge can consider their case.

Later when the draft script was ready we gleaned vital feedback on the content from frontline staff, for example on practical tips for what to do once the form is ready to go to court. This process of refining the content enabled us to improve the quality of the information and so better meet the needs of users.

Frontline staff told that us that many people applying for a non-molestation order really struggle to write the statement that must be filed with their application form, especially if English is not their first language. We decided that it would be hard to explain how to tackle the statement in the film without making it too long and dry. But, as this came up as an important part of the process that women find really challenging we felt we couldn’t ignore it. So, with the help of Next Link, and a small amount of funding from the Family Justice Council we wrote a guide on how to apply for a non-molestation order and an occupation order with two sample statements to show the layout, style and wording required by the court.

Take a look at our film and guide How to write your statement to apply for an injunction on Advicenow, Law for Life’s website for people who are looking for independent and free legal information about their rights and the law.

Published: 19 August 2019

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