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Our Policies

  • Confidentiality

    LawCare is committed to providing a high quality service to the legal community.  We hold the privacy and dignity of those seeking our support in high regard, and we recognise the importance of confidentiality in our interactions with individuals who contact us for help. It is important that anyone contacting LawCare has complete confidence and trust in our services. Our service is confidential and we protect any information that individuals choose to share with us.

    Any information that an individual discloses to a member of the helpline, support email or live chat team, (both staff and volunteers) is treated respectfully and sensitively. The team work closely to ensure that individuals receive the best support we can offer, so sometimes it is necessary to share information within the team. In accordance with good self-care practice the team may also discuss matters in confidential supervision or support sessions with counsellors who are under the same obligations regarding confidentiality as staff and volunteers. 


    Personal information conveyed to LawCare will not be shared with non-Helpline (including support email and live chat) staff and volunteers or external organisations without explicit and informed consent (other than in the exceptional circumstances listed below). Sometimes in order to help an individual we may need to liaise with external organisations so that we can provide effective support, e.g. contacting other support agencies or counsellors. In these circumstances we will ask for permission to share any relevant information.


    Exceptional circumstances and limitations to confidentiality

    There are rare instances when we are unable to maintain our commitment to confidentiality. These are circumstances where:

    • An individual is perceived to be at serious and immediate risk of harming themselves or others
    • An individual discloses details of their involvement in child abuse or abuse of a vulnerable adult
    • We are required by law to do so

    In such circumstances we would seek to obtain consent prior to disclosure of any personal information, but if the risk of non-disclosure is judged by the helpline team, the CEO and the Chair to be sufficiently serious, the information will be disclosed without consent.


    Record Keeping

    Individuals may provide information of a personal and sensitive nature about their health, finances, work circumstances or personal difficulties. A record of the discussion will be kept to ensure that the appropriate response is provided, particularly if the individual contacts LawCare again. Notes may record the key points or issues raised, the information given by Helpline staff/volunteers, relevant background information and any follow-up action, as well as contact details if disclosed. Access to this information is limited to staff only on a need-to-know basis.

    We keep computer-based records of all the information provided to us. All personal and sensitive data is processed in accordance with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation 2018.

    We collect routine statistical information about those using our services, which is anonymised and used for reporting and evaluation purposes. This information may be summarised and used in LawCare publications. We take great care to ensure that no individually identifiable information is disclosed.

    The period for which records are held before destruction is informed by current data protection legislation and good practice within the helpline sector.


    Access to Records

    Under the General Data Protection Regulation (2018) individuals have the right to access information held about them. Individuals may request access to the personal data held about them by LawCare by emailing admin@lawcare.org.uk

    This policy was last reviewed in February 2022

  • Privacy Notice

    LawCare is a limited company and registered charity. This privacy notice states the legal basis for LawCare to hold and use information about you, and explains how we use any personal information we collect about you.

    We collect and use information about you on the legal basis that doing so is within the purposes of our legitimate interests which do not infringe your interests and rights and we comply with data protection laws. You have the right to ask us not to process your data in this way (the right to object) and we will comply.

    What information do we collect about you?

    Helpline calls, email support, and live online chat
    When you call the LawCare helpline or contact us for support by email or live chat, we may note information you voluntarily and freely give us, including your name, telephone number, address, email address, work circumstances, and brief notes regarding the issue you have contacted us about which may include details of your health and personal circumstances. Unless withheld by you your telephone number may be available to our agents and we may note this in order to better assist you and to ensure accurate record keeping. You have the right to request that we do not record this or any information and we will comply with this request. 

    Other Contacts
    When you contact LawCare by email or other means we may record your name, contact information, and a brief note of the purpose of the communication. 

    Where do we keep this information?

    We use cloud storage for our CRM and other data, documents and resources. Wherever possible we ensure that data is stored on UK servers which comply with UK GDPR regulations. Where this is not possible the servers may be in Europe and managed under the European GDPR framework.

    How do we use the information about you?

    Helpline calls, support emails and live chat
    The  information we collect about you is used by our staff and volunteers so that they can support you. We keep your personal information for 3 years in order to better assist you should your issue be ongoing or further support be required at a future date. We record some statistical information from each call and email to report on and improve our service. This includes information about gender, the issue you contacted us about, your professional background and practice jurisdiction. This information never reports about specific people.  

    We will only share your information if you have expressly given us permission to do so, or where : 
    • We are concerned that you are perceived to be at serious and immediate risk of harming yourself or others
    • You disclose details of involvement in child abuse or abuse of a vulnerable adult 
    • We are required by law to do so 

    Other contacts
    We keep your personal information to help us contact you in the ways in which you have asked us to make contact.  For example, sending out a newsletter you have asked to receive, or asking you to work with us in ways you have expressed an interest in.

    We will not share your information with third parties or for marketing purposes unless you have expressly give us permission to do so. 

    Access to your information and correction

    You have the right to request access to the information we hold about you. If you would like access to some or all of your information please email or write to us at the address given at the end of this notice.

    We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date.  Please ask us to correct or remove any information you think is inaccurate.

    The right to request erasure (also known as the right to be forgotten)

    You have the right to ask for the deletion or removal of personal information where there is no compelling reason for it to be kept but, if the purposes for which the information was collected still exist, LawCare will be entitled to keep the information. Any request for erasure should be sent to the address below.

    The right to complain

    If you are concerned about the way LawCare deals with your personal information you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioners Office. You can contact them by calling 0303 123 1113 or go online to www.ico.org.uk/concerns.

    Changes to this notice

    We review this notice from time to time and updates will be put on our website www.lawcare.org.uk

    How to contact LawCare

    Please contact us if you have any question/s about this notice or the information we hold about you by writing to PO Box 71193, London SE20 9EQ or emailing admin@lawcare.org.uk. 

    This notice was last reviewed in April 2022

  • Complaints policy

    We aim to provide a high quality support and information service to people working within the legal community and concerned family members. It’s important that we know about any problems so we can deal with them quickly and effectively.

    We recognise that sometimes our service may not meet people’s needs or expectations and when this happens it’s important that we know about it so we can respond to any problems. This also helps us to continue to improve the service we offer.

    What to do if you have a complaint about LawCare’s service, staff or volunteers

    Please contact the Chief Executive by email at erimmer@lawcare.org.uk
    or write to her at Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO, LawCare PO Box 71193, London SE20 9EQ

    If your complaint is about the CEO please put this in writing to the Chair, Andrew Caplen, 71193, London SE20 9EQ or email admin@lawcare.org.uk

    All complaints are confidential and will be acknowledged in writing within 3 days and where possible the outcome of any investigation notified to you within in 14 days.

    Process
    The CEO will notify the Chair of any complaint received. The complaint will be investigated by discussing it with relevant staff/volunteer/team and the complainant. The CEO will respond on behalf of LawCare (in consultation with the Chair) to the complainant and take any appropriate follow up action. Where the complaint is about the CEO, the Chair will follow the same process and consult with the Board.

    The response may include:

    • An explanation and an apology
    • An explanation of any relevant policy
    • An indication of changes made as a result of the complaint
    • Notification of any disciplinary action
    • A rejection of the complaint

     

    There is no right of appeal to the Chair or Trustees as all complaints are responded to in consultation with them.

    This policy was last reviewed in February 2022

  • Compliments policy

    LawCare welcomes feedback on its service. When a compliment is received, either by email, phone, or other means, the member of staff receiving the communication will:

    • Thank the sender/caller for their feedback
    • Ask for permission to securely pass their feedback to the relevant member of staff, helpline volunteer or peer supporter (where appropriate)
    • Ask for permission to note their comments (with all identifying details removed) for use in future LawCare materials or on the website
    • Where appropriate, encourage the sender/caller to leave a review on LawCare’s social media channels

    Where permission has been given the quote or email is recorded in a document accessible only by LawCare staff. Details of the caller/sender are removed, as are names of staff members, helpline volunteers or peer supporters, and any other details which might identify any individual. The date and method by which the complimentary quote was received are also recorded. This document provides source material for quotes used on LawCare’s website, annual report, and other literature.

    Where possible the quote is also recorded against the file of a support service user.

    Where permission is not given either to report the compliment to other members of staff, or to record it, no note of the telephone call is taken, or the email is deleted.

    The caller/sender may contact LawCare at any point in future to request that their quote is not used, even if permission had originally been given. It will then be deleted from LawCare’s system and no longer used on promotional materials.

    This policy was last reviewed in February 2022

  • Safeguarding policy

    This policy applies to all staff, the Board of Trustees, volunteers, consultants and anyone working on behalf of LawCare. It should be read alongside our other policies and procedures in particular those relating to Confidentiality and Data Protection.

    The purpose of this policy is to: 

    • protect our service users. Although LawCare works primarily with adults we recognise that our responsibility extends to all vulnerable beneficiaries including the children of adults who use our services;
    • provide staff and volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach to safeguarding and child protection

    Legal framework
    This policy has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children and adults who may be in vulnerable circumstances.

    Key terms and definitions
    A child is someone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.
    An adult at risk (previously known as a vulnerable adult) is a person aged 18 or over who: 

    • has needs for care and support and;
    • is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect; and
    • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of or the experience of abuse and neglect.

    Forms of abuse

    Types of abuse can include:
    • Physical abuse
    • Sexual abuse
    • Neglect
    • Self-neglect
    • Psychological or emotional abuse
    • Financial or material abuse
    • Discriminatory abuse
    • Institutional abuse
    • Domestic violence

    Types of abuse
    • Abuse can be a single act or repeated acts
    • Can be deliberate or unintentional or result from lack of knowledge
    • Can be an act of neglect, an omission or a failure to act
    • Can cause harm temporarily or over a period of time
    • Can occur in any relationship
    • Can be perpetrated by anyone, carried out by individuals or as part of a group or an organisation
    • Abuse can constitute a crime

    LawCare is committed to taking steps to ensure that anyone using our services is safe and to protect vulnerable people who might be
    • at risk, including from another person
    • experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings
    • at risk in some other way

    LawCare follows clear principles of confidentiality, nevertheless there may be occasions when it is appropriate to share information and it is now a legal requirement that agencies and professionals work together around safeguarding issues. We will always try to obtain informed consent before sharing information. If this is not possible there may be occasions when to protect the best interests of service users it will be necessary to override this, for example if someone is at risk. On these occasions we may raise a Safeguarding alert within LawCare and if appropriate involve outside agencies such as emergency services, social services, or any other agency deemed appropriate. Social Services have a duty to investigate if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.

    If a Safeguarding concern is identified it should be immediately discussed with the CEO or if she is unavailable another member of staff to identify next steps which will include: 

    • taking reasonable steps to ensure the vulnerable person is not in immediate danger and if necessary seeking urgent medical treatment
    • contacting the police if an applicable crime has been committed or someone is in immediate danger
    • making a written report of all material observations
    • if deemed appropriate the CEO after consultation with the Board of Trustees reporting the notified event to the relevant charity regulator

    We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually/every eighteen months.

    This policy was last reviewed on May 21 2020

  • Service User agreement

    Our confidentiality and quality commitments

    At LawCare we are committed to promoting and supporting good mental health and wellbeing across the legal community in the UK. We have been supporting people in the legal sector for nearly 25 years.

    We operate our service via three support channels:

    • Freephone helpline open 9am-5pm (Mon-Fri) 0800 279 6888
    • LiveChat available on certain days via the website
    • Email contact via a secure portal

    Policies

    We have the following regularly updated polices in place to protect and help the service users we support:

    • GDPR
    • Confidentiality
    • Privacy
    • Complaints/Compliments
    • Safeguarding
    • Equality & Diversity

    These are available to be read on request.

    Use of support channels

    • Our team provide a listening ear, signposting and emotional support
    • Our team do not provide counselling or therapy and are not qualified to do so; where relevant we can signpost to guidance on how to find this support
    • Our team members are not medically qualified and contact with a service user where medical conditions are mentioned is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We actively encourage support contacts with health concerns to speak to a qualified medical practitioner.
    • We do not provide legal advice and cannot comment on any legal proceedings.
    • Our team will not tolerate abuse of any kind and will not engage with a service user they believe may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Our team members make brief notes of helpline calls, emails and live chats which are stored securely. LawCare does not routinely record identifying personal information. All notes are destroyed after seven years.
    • Calls are only recorded for monitoring/training purposes and all call recordings are destroyed within 60 days. Such calls may only be listened to by the core staff at LawCare and are never shared with third parties


    Our policy regarding repeat callers

    Service users may use the various channels more than once if required.

    Calls to our helpline should only very rarely exceed 30-45 minutes as lengthier contacts usually suggest the call has lost focus and become circular and counterproductive as well as tiring

    LawCare seeks to make its services available to as many people are possible. We reserve the right to limit repeat contacts in terms of time and frequency to ensure others can access our service. Such decisions will be made in consultation with the CEO and core staff and will be communicated to the service user.

    Responsibilities of Service Users

    • Service users take responsibility for the information they divulge.
    • Service users should not provide LawCare with any documents relating to their medical history, court cases, or anything else of a personal nature.
    • Photographs, videos, or any other personal documentation will be deleted and not opened or stored. If such media are opened in error the service user will be informed and the files deleted immediately.
    • To avoid caller dependence LawCare is not able to inform helpline callers as to when named volunteers or core staff members are on duty.
    • Service users are requested not to send gifts or cards for individuals. If they wish to show their appreciation they may donate via our website or provide feedback on our social media channels. All donations are used to benefit the aims of the charity and are gratefully received.

    Callback

    With your consent we may call you back after a reasonable period of time for feedback and to evaluate our service via an anonymized questionnaire. You may withdraw your consent at any time and are under no obligation to participate.

    Finally

    We aim to provide you with a safe, confidential space where you can access support and be signposted to help.

    This policy was last reviewed in February 2021

  • Statement of Service Standards