October is Domestic Violence Abuse month and with the rise of calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline and the issue of women’s safety on the streets top of the agenda, the more that can be done to help those experiencing domestic abuse, the better. The Domestic Abuse Act came into force in April 2021 to further protect survivors of abuse.
Local charity Flag DV which offers free legal advice and support to domestic abuse victims in the Thames Valley, has nominated Alison Whistler, Head of Matrimonial and Family Law, for the LawWorks Pro Bono 2021 Awards. The awards celebrate the best pro bono legal activities undertaken and individuals or organisations that have made a difference to the lives of others.
Laura Hunter, Head of Operation at Flag DV said, “Over the course of last year FLAG DV saw referrals dramatically increase. Once lockdowns eased and life began to return to a degree of normality there was some expectation that we would see an easing of demand. But numbers for the year to date are already 10% higher than last year. The work that FLAG DV does would not exist without the support of our pro-bono solicitors. Alison Whistler has been an incredible member of our team. Joining us in January of 2020 she initially supported our service with face-to-face delivery of clinics in Newbury. When the pandemic hit, our service moved to phone support. She showed patience and reliability as our service model had to change and adapt.”
Alison Whistler has been providing pro bono advice for the charity for over two years. “It’s becoming increasingly concerning to me” said Mrs Whistler, “that victims of domestic violence often have to spend far more on legal fees in leaving an abusive relationship or marriage because of the need to instruct a lawyer to deal with everything rather than try and deal directly with their other half like other couples do.”
“For someone experiencing domestic abuse” said Mrs Hunter, “it is a big step to reach out for help, especially regarding their legal rights. Research shows that on average it takes someone experiencing abuse seven attempts to leave before they are successful. Every client's journey is unique and where they are in that journey will vary. Our service is about empowering people to be able to make an informed decision to move safely out of the abuse. Alison provides clients with timely advice, tailored to their circumstances to help them decide what the next move should be and whether continuing down the legal route is truly the right decision for them. Many clients approach our service having received incomplete advice from friends or family members with various outcomes. The value of a client talking to a qualified solicitor like Alison ensures more holistic and accurate advice.”
One recent client of Flag DV said “Having not known legally what my rights as a mum were, I feel reassured after the call”
All shortlisted nominees will be invited to attend the Awards ceremony at The Law Society on Tuesday 7th December 2021.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Flag DV Charitable Incorporated Organisation, CIO number 1154070
Photo supplied, Laura Hunter (left) and Alison Whistler (right)