Advice, Advocacy & Legal Services
In each section of this ‘Living with SMA’ website there are links to relevant sources of information, advice and support with the challenges of daily living. There may be times when you feel you need extra advice or support or even legal advice around a specific issue.
It can be difficult to know where to start, so below are website links for some organisations which may be useful. SMA UK may be able to find other sources of support depending on where you live and your individual circimstances; please contact support services.
Advice and Advocacy Services
Advocacy involves another person assisting you to find information you need, supporting you to express your views and wishes and to stand up for your rights. The person who supports you in this way is your advocate; what they actually do depends on your situation and the support you want, but their role is always to support your choices. Some advocates are in paid roles, others are volunteers.
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service) provide advice and guidance on a range of employment related subjects for both employers and employees: www.acas.org.uk/
Advicelocal can help you find information relating to: welfare benefits and tax credits; council tax, including exemptions and discounts; debt and money advice; housing and homelessness; employment and work issues; disability and social care; and asylum and immigration. You can search by postcode and topic for links to tailored information for your area, including details of independent advice organisations: https://advicelocal.uk/
Citizens Advice (CA) – have online information and advice on a range of issues including benefits, work, money, housing and the legal system. See www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Local CAs provide free, independent and confidential advice; follow the links below to check what is offered locally:
- England: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- Wales: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales
- Northern Ireland: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/northern-ireland
- Scotland: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland
NHS Complaints Advocacy – provide a free and independent service which supports patients in complaining about their NHS care: nhscomplaintsadvocacy.org
Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Advocacy Service – helps anyone with a muscle-wasting condition who is having difficulties getting the care and support, services, benefits and equipment they are entitled to:
Legal Advice and Services
Law Centres Network – list a network of law centres across England for people who cannot afford a lawyer. They specialise in social welfare law, covering issues such as Welfare rights, Disability rights, Community care and more. All local law centres offer face to face advice to local residents and some run a telephone advice line: www.lawcentres.org.uk/i-am-looking-for-advice
The following provide information about legal aid and how to find a solicitor:
- England and Wales - Community Legal Services Direct – England and Wales: www.clsdirect.uk/
- Scotland - Scottish Legal Aid Board: www.slab.org.uk/
- Northern Ireland - Department of Justice:
Coram Children’s Legal Centre provide quality, free legal representation to children, young people and families across many areas of civil law in the UK: www.childrenslegalcentre.com/about-us/what-we-do/
They also operate Child Law Advice Service which provides specialist advice and information on child, family and education law to parents, carers and young people in England: https://childlawadvice.org.uk/
Council for Disabled Children - published "Disabled Children: A Legal Handbook" as a parent-friendly guide to the legal rights of disabled children and their families in England and Wales. Topics covered include health, education and housing. Each chapter of the book can be downloaded free from the website: www.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/resources/disabled-children-a-legal-handbook-2nd-edition