The Raw Reality of Court is Scary and Secret

50% of everyone in the UK will face a court case at some point in their lives, but for those who haven’t experienced it, (and even some who have) the full gravitas of what court can mean can’t possibly sink in.

Before I started working at the PSU in the Royal Courts of Justice, I thought I’d only ever need a lawyer if I accidentally stumbled upon a criminal act. The sad reality is that court isn’t always a consequence of wrongdoing. It turns innocent lives upside down just the same, especially if you can’t pay.

Spending time in this grand gothic building with no legal knowledge really does connect you to the sheer emotion of that.

Walking to collect the post you’ll find flustered people asking you for directions, sometimes crying for the solution, sometimes screaming that they’ve lost their case and just want to find a way out of the wrought iron, security guarded, gates.

People are nice to each other here, mostly that kind of sympathetic kindness. You never know why somebody’s in this building, (and you don’t want to pry), but they could be facing homelessness, so you’d better be kind to everyone just in case.

You’ll walk through the grand stone courtyard past the GeoAmey vans, wondering who the prisoners are inside. The screams of protesters from outside the gates flood through as a high profile case reaches its end. Today, the battle for Charlie Gard’s life ended and the grief hung in the air.

All the while you know that people are keeping their heads down to avoid the cameras as they enter the building to face their own battles. They could have spent hours getting buses or walking here because they can’t afford the train; they could know this place well now after a 15 year long fight with the council to make their home safe to live in; they likely have no idea where they are going.

These are the Litigants in Person. They’re the people without lawyers and without a support system behind them. They walk into this huge stone structure alone to fight for everything they care about, and this is only one court in the UK. It happens everywhere.

Legal jargon too often distances us from the emotional ordeal of going to court, and that same ordeal often makes it into a very private, secretive affair, shrouded in shame and fear. The Personal Support Unit is there to help with anyone who needs immediate help in 20 courts across the UK, please consider lending your support.


Why Everyone Should Have a Storybook


I recently attended a training event about story telling by Rob Woods. Working as a fundraiser, “the story” is an especially essential skill to master in order to win people’s hearts – but its also an important social skill.

We all know have that one friend that always drops a gripping story whenever you meet them; and even if the conversation is a chaotic babble, it’ll get everyone’s attention for up to a solid 3 minutes. So, how can we become more Caitlin (that one friend for me).

  1. Make sure your story has four clear parts or else you might get lost in it:

Who? The problem? What was done? The Result? – stick to this, or any relevant structure and you’ll keep it snappy. The way I do it is to think up the 3 key lines before you start because if you’re trying to tell a story under social pressure you’ll get distracted unless you know where its going.

  1. Keep a storybook:

You need content. As social creatures our lives are filled with stories but too often we hear the best stories when we’re extremely busy, intoxicated, or we may just forget over time.

If you can carry a book dedicated to the stories you hear and write them up under the divisions: Professional, Personal, and whatever other areas are particularly important to you, then you’ll have more genuine and exciting content for your conversations.

Whether you want to cite that time your friend’s Mum hit Benedict Cumberbatch with her car when you’re telling celebrity stories, or, give an incredible client testimonial about your business in a meeting with an investor, you’ll build material that’s both great to use and read back on too. – Rob Woods’ Website

The public is vested with a duty to Prevent terrorism, but how many Brits even know what Channel is?

In the wake of devastating UK terrorist attacks, emotions have been running high. It’s common knowledge that many of the attackers were known to the police, but do people know what happens once a report is made?

So often people ask in fear: so if a potential terrorist is reported before they’ve done anything illegal?

a) the police won’t do anything, or,

b) they’ll be instantly arrested?

Channel is the way local authorities try to de-radicalise individuals; it’s a referral process only carried out if the subject subscribes to an extremist ideology and demonstrates a violent expression moving towards terrorism.

The local authority has a responsibility to set up a multi-agency panel discussion that can share appropriate information about the person. Channel then assesses the risk through a non-exhaustive 22 quota of vulnerabilities. After review, somebody must show: engagement, intent, and capability of terrorism. Only then will they be subject to the prevent intervention process.

This involves multiple different agencies coming together to make a customised support system for the individual. If illegal travel is a risk, it is likely that they will have their passport confiscated by the police, or if they are being taught twisted religious ideologies, an intervention provider of that same faith (who may have even shared their journey of reform) will engage them in discussions to help detonate their hatred safely.

Charities, schools, the police, and the council all share information to make an informed decision. The system tries its best to be objective and keep everyone safe.

Unfortunately, the right cases don’t always reach Channel. Its sometimes hard to take a report forward and family members have had to push through third party charities to make channel happen. In other cases, panels may be held for people who should never have been referred in the first place.

Public awareness of Channel is very low, with many people not even knowing that Prevent exists. It’s alarming that minority groups know the most about these policies because they feel persecuted by them (source: my on conversations with anyone about terror ever).


This is particularly alarming because according to the 2015 policy update, we are all under ‘duty’ as a society to uphold a set of guidelines most of the population know nothing about.

We need more education about what Prevent is, and what it does, for everyone, anywhere in the country. We need an open, informed discussion. No matter what our political views on the strategy are, we should all agree on that. The UK needs to be equipped with the knowledge of what will happen if we report our friends and family to the police, and we need to have a strong, informed counter-narrative to terrorist ideas if we are expected to prevent it’s attrocities.


If you want to support an initiative driving forward this kind of education, follow this link.


SOURCE: – Channel Duty Guidance 2015 –