As part of Stewarts’ commitment to helping anyone who has sustained a life-changing injury or developed a serious illness (not just those who may have a compensation claim), our Pro Bono team provides free legal assistance and practical support through The Legal Service.
Following a life-changing injury or serious illness giving rise to a period of hospitalisation, many patients will face a wide range of legal and practical problems. Early identification and management of these issues can help relieve the anxiety experienced by both patients and their families and allow them to focus on their recovery. Studies have shown that by reducing external stress factors, patients can achieve better clinical outcomes.
Twenty years of The Legal Service
We first started providing The Legal Service to patients at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre in 2004. Since then, our commitment to supporting seriously ill or severely injured patients has grown tremendously.
We formally launched our Pro Bono department in 2012 and now have a dedicated team of seven lawyers working full-time to assist patients and their families with a wide range of issues. This support is available from the acute stage while a patient is still in hospital until their legal problems are resolved, sometimes long after they have been discharged. We have recently had patients come back to us years after we first met them.
Since its inception, The Legal Service has undertaken the following amazing work to change people’s lives on a completely free-of-charge basis:
- assisted over 6,000 people affected by serious injury and illness
- provided more than 50,000 hours of free pro bono support with non-compensation legal issues.
- executed more than 600 powers of attorney
- made nearly 200 applications to the Court of Protection
- helped patients to get over £1.18m of their debt written off
- recovered £12m under no-fault insurance policies
- helped more than 2,000 people with housing issues
- assisted with over 100 welfare benefits mandatory reconsiderations and appeals
Our Pro Bono department also now offers legal support through Onward, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting people in hospital with a life-changing injury or serious illness.
Onward’s role is to ensure patients and their families receive the financial, emotional, legal and practical support they need, when they need it most. Onward launched at University Hospital Southampton and the Wessex Trauma Network earlier this year.
In addition to legal support, Onward provides the following services:
- Benefits support
- Case management support
- Counselling support
- Financial support
- Peer support
We are proud to be able to support patients and their families at a time when it is most needed, helping to change their lives at a difficult time.