Our new Legal Entitlements Research co-ordinator

Carys Hughes, Co-ordinator for the Legal Entitlements Research Project, describes her role and explains how the Project may be able to help you.

I joined Cerebra on 7 April 2014 as the co-ordinator for the Legal Entitlements Research Project, which has been in operation since October 2013. Having qualified as a solicitor in private practice, I spent 11 years in a complaints-handling role in the public sector before joining Cerebra. I hope that my legal background, teamed with my experience in dealing with people’s concerns, will help me to contribute to the success of the Project.

The Project has evolved from a number of initiatives set up by Cerebra to inform parents of their legal rights. A series of popular Cerebra seminars, delivered by Professor Luke Clements of Cardiff University, gave rise to several ‘frequently asked questions’ and resulted in the publication of our Parent Guides, followed by a set of precedent letters which parents could adapt for their own use . Cerebra recognised that some parents might need additional support in order to access their legal rights and responded by establishing the Project, in conjunction with Cardiff University.

Law students at the University (under the supervision of qualified staff, firms of solicitors and other disability organisations) aim to provide legal support to families who are experiencing difficulties in accessing health and social care services. Part of my role as co-ordinator is to consider requests received from parents and refer appropriate cases to the University.

As well as providing practical assistance to families, the legal advice scheme also forms part of a wider research programme, under the direction of Professor Luke Clements as our Academic Chair. The research is aimed at improving our understanding of the difficulties faced by families in accessing support services and learning how these problems can be resolved effectively. Cases referred to the scheme will provide a valuable source of information to the research team at Cardiff about the type of problems encountered by families and the effectiveness of the scheme’s interventions.

The research team will also be developing a UK wide register of support resources, comprising information about advice and support agencies which could help families secure the support services they need.

Recent successes have already been reported (Oliver’s story and Jinny’s story) and we hope to publish many more success stories as the Project progresses. If you have a legal question about your child’s access to health or social care services, please have a look at our website for further details about the scheme and contact us at probono@cerebra.org.uk