Together for Short Lives
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Transport for London – Legal Team

In 2020, we launched our partnership with Transport for London Legal Team, the legal division of the local government body responsible for the transport system in Greater London, England.

Fundraising heroes

The legal team will be supporting Together for Short Lives and our core projects throughout the year by organising local fundraising events and in office activities. The team are eager to get involved with challenge events too and have their sights set on a few of our iconic London based challenges.

Skills for good

We also hope to incorporate volunteering into our partnership, with the team volunteering their time and services for the Together for Short Lives legal advice service – providing professional support and assistance to families with specific problems they may be facing.

Families first

Our legal advice service changes lives and we’re delighted that the Transport for London Legal Team will be helping families like Caitrin’s. Read her story to see what a difference the service makes:

Fiona’s niece, Caitrin, was born with severe brain damage and was not expected to survive her first 24 hours after the ventilator was switched off. Against all the odds, and with Fiona holding her for the whole night, Caitrin survived. The following morning, Fiona had no hesitation in taking the life-changing decision to become Caitrin’s carer, which she managed to achieve after obtaining a Special Guardianship Order.

Fiona took one year off work in order to look after Caitrin after she was born as she required a great deal of care. In addition to having widespread brain injury, Caitrin has a range of needs including difficulties with temperature control and seizures. She is fed through a nasal gastric tube as she does not have a swallow reflex and she doesn’t cry but only occasionally makes small quiet noises when she needs attention or is unhappy.

Fiona, who works in adult social services, was allowed 12 months of special leave from her local authority employer to look after Caitrin and knew she had to return to work exactly one year later in order to keep her job. Several months before she was due back at work, Fiona managed to find childcare for three days a week with a friend who was trained and prepared to look after Caitrin. However, despite being in correspondence with her employer for several months, she had not been able to obtain a parent carer’s needs assessment to ensure that funds would be available to pay for Caitrin’s care.

Fiona realised she needed help but didn’t have the funds to pay for a lawyer. Fortunately, she discovered at Caitrin’s local hospice that she could obtain free legal advice from Together for Short Lives’ legal advice service.

A volunteer lawyer, having heard Caitrin’s story, drafted a lengthy letter to Fiona’s local authority employer, setting out in detail their obligations and responsibilities towards Caitrin and Fiona. As a result, the employer agreed to arrange for the parent carer’s needs assessment to be carried out, the result of which was that Fiona was able to return to work without losing income.

Without having the funds to pay for childcare, I would not have been able to go back to work after one year was up and I would therefore have lost my job. The lawyer was able to write a long letter which basically encouraged my employer to get on with it. Time was running out for me because the childminder had to make sure she was free to look after Caitrin at the date I was due to go back to work. I’m very grateful to the lawyer for her help.

Fiona

Fiona is now back at work and, although Caitrin still faces many challenges she has come on in leaps and bounds. When Fiona is not working, they are able to do the things together which Caitrin enjoys most such as swimming lessons, playgroups and musical sessions.

For more information about our partnership or any of the above services, please contact Jessy on jessica.smith@togetherforshortlives.org.uk.