For a variety of reasons, many of the young people coming to Y.E.S.S. need help in their dealings with the Justice system. We regularly attend the Magistrates Court and Crown Court, working in conjunction with solicitors, the Probation Service and the courts to negotiate and ensure the most appropriate and just rehabilitative sentence plan. For many years we have had a good relationship with the law firm GT Stewart and one of their offices is just down the road from us.
We are available at all hours – night and day – to be contacted by young people when they are in need of assistance, and act as ‘appropriate adults’ in the case of young persons under the age of 18 being detained by the Police. In the case of a custodial sentence, we maintain contact through letters and visits, and work closely with Youth Offending Team and Probation Service Staff to ensure early release and minimise the risk of re-offending.
Although only some of the young people Y.E.S.S. assists are officially homeless, many of them face difficulties in obtaining and remaining in a safe, secure and stable home. We are a first port of call for young people with housing issues, assisting with form-filling, liaising on their behalf with the appropriate authorities and equipping them with the skills and confidence to live on their own. In cases of actual Homelessness, we work closely with a specialist firm of solicitors who have a full housing contract for legally aided work, providing not just referrals but also a practical communications link between young person and their solicitor.
In the absence of any other suitable person we may act as litigation friend in urgent Judicial Reviews in the High Court. Finding a home is one matter but keeping it can be just as difficult. Here we help with housing and council tax benefit applications and problems with disrepair, again either advised by specialist solicitors or by referral.
Y.E.S.S. provides practical support in advising and assisting with applications. We have helped obtain Educational Maintenance Grants for young people whose study requirements mean they are not entitled to other benefits. We have also assisted young persons applying for Community Care Grants, which are available to those claiming Income Support in cases of special need.