Case study: a guardian angel

Most 21 year-olds are revelling in the first wind of adulthood. However, for this 21 year-old woman, being an adult suddenly meant taking on a very serious responsibility.

When both her parents passed away within a year of each other, this young woman assumed the care of her sister, who had just turned 11. Grief-stricken, she undertook the Adverse Childhood Experience Course and a 12-week parenting course. She was advised to apply for a Special Guardianship Order, which would legally place her young sister in her care. However, the solicitor required money on account to act for her, which she could not afford. Sadly, under the merits test brought in by LASPO, she was also ineligible for Legal Aid.

The young woman also found herself dealing with the estate of her mother, who had died without a will, and her life insurance policy did not cover the mortgage. With all of this to contend with, the young woman lacked the knowledge and the strength to make an application to the court for a Special Guardianship Order by herself.

Fortunately, help was at hand, in the form of two guardian angels. A solicitor who found the story on social media reached out and offered to act pro bono, knowing that the help she could offer could make a world of difference to the sisters. An anonymous donor paid the court fee, and the solicitor made the application.

In September 2021, the court granted the Special Guardianship Order, and the local authority agreed to provide a £700 monthly allowance that will enable the sisters to keep their family home – a much needed constant throughout the loss and upheaval they have experienced.

Sadly, there are many such families who do not qualify for legal aid, and not everyone is fortunate enough to find a guardian angel.