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A new way of supporting you through our helpline

Illustration of a woman's hand holding a mobile phone ringing with the image of a friendly advocacy worker.

We are temporarily introducing a new way of supporting women impacted by abuse and violence through our helpline.

The pandemic has been a very challenging time for women in Scotland. And we have certainly noticed this in the huge demand that our small team of solicitors and advocacy workers have seen over the past months. After an incredibly busy year, we’ve been reflecting on ways in which we can offer our legal support more effectively and meet some of this increased demand.

Starting on 10 January 2022, we will have new helpline opening times as well as a new system to respond to your calls.

Our experienced advocacy workers will now be handling your initial call, assessing your needs and giving you initial information and support. And if you require initial legal information, one of our solicitors will call you back to discuss your questions.

We plan to test this new way of working from January to March 2022. After this period, we will take your feedback and our learnings from this experience to adjust our helpline and continue to make it as accessible as possible.

It is also important to know that our solicitors will still be available through our usual legal surgery appointments and will consider cases for legal representation.

Our goal is and remains to ensure that more women in Scotland feel able and empowered to use their rights. We are positive that this change will mean more women get the information and advice they need sooner.

How will the helpline work?

We will provide the same specialist, trauma-informed helpline service that we have been offering for the past 7 years. However, from January to March 2022 the following will change:

We will be moving to new opening times on 10 January 2022.

Monday 1 - 4 pm
Tuesday 10 am - 1 pm
Wednesday 1 - 4 pm
Friday 10 am - 1 pm

Additionally, one of our advocacy workers will now answer your calls. As with all our helplines until now, there will only be one staff member (in this case, an advocacy worker) on shift during our helpline opening hours. This means that it might take some time before we can answer your call. Yet, we are positive that this new system should reduce the waiting times.

Once our advocacy worker answers your call, she will:

  • Ask what information you are looking for
  • Listen to the situation you are going through
  • Check if you are safe and if you already have emotional support
  • Take a note of the questions you have and offer you information for questions that don’t require the response of a solicitor
  • She will also offer you other information and advice that could be helpful. For example, where to go for immigration advice, how to work with a social worker, ways to support your children if they are being impacted by the abuse, how to navigate the criminal justice process, among other things. You can find out more about how advocacy can support you here.
  • If there are any specific legal questions, with your consent the advocacy worker will note these down together with your contact details. She will then either arrange for a solicitor to call you back or book you in for a surgery appointment, depending on your circumstances.

We want this new helpline system to work for you, and to do this it is important that we know what needs to improve. Your feedback and comments will be very welcome as we test this new way of operating our helpline. You can use this form to send us any comments you have.

Some common questions

  • Will I be able to speak to a solicitor at all?

Yes. If your questions need an answer from one of our solicitors, we will put you in touch with them. With your consent, during the call we will take a note of your questions and contact details so that one of our solicitors can call you back.

Alternatively, you can always book a surgery appointment if you already know your questions require legal advice.

You can also look for other solicitors using our Find a Solicitor page or by visiting the Law Society of Scotland website. If you’ve never worked with a solicitor before or you are unsure of how to approach one, our Getting Legal Representation guide can be very helpful.

  • Can the advocacy worker that I speak to give me legal advice?

Only solicitors are qualified to give legal advice. However, our advocacy workers have expertise in a range of areas like criminal justice, health services and social work. And we have many helpful resources that may answer the initial questions you have.

When you call, you will get advice about a number of areas and our advocacy worker will be able to share any initial information with you. We have published different guides and other resources that can help. Our advocacy workers can share this information and go over it with you. If you need more specific legal advice, we will arrange for a solicitor to call you back.

  • How will I get urgent legal advice?

Because of the high demand on our services, unfortunately our helpline is not the best place to get urgent legal advice. Where possible, we will do our best to provide legal advice for urgent situations, but it may not always be possible.

If you have an upcoming deadline or can’t wait to get legal advice, we strongly encourage you to find a solicitor who can advise you.

You can find solicitors using our Find a Solicitor page or by visiting the Law Society of Scotland website. If you’ve never worked with a solicitor before or you are unsure of how to approach one, our Getting Legal Representation guide can be very helpful.

  • Is there a way to speak directly with a solicitor?

Yes. If you are certain that your question requires the advice of a solicitor, then you can visit our Advice Surgeries page and follow the steps to book an appointment.

We offer two types of legal surgery appointments:

- For cases related to any form of abuse or violence, through our general legal surgeries.

- For women with experience of abuse and immigration issues.

You can find details of these surgeries and how to book an appointment here. Please note, at the moment all our advice surgeries are happening remotely (via telephone or video call).

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Helpline

08088 010 789

Our helpline is currently available:

- Wednesdays between 10am and 1pm

- Thursdays between 1.30pm and 4.30pm

Important: from 10 January 2022 our helpline is temporarily moving to a new format. You can read more about these changes here.

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