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Coroners' Courts Support Service

Coroners' Courts Support Service
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Coroners' Courts Support Service

'Meeting an unmet need for the bereaved'

Unexpected death is always traumatic for bereaved family and friends, and yet there is no support service offered by government or the private sector for those attending inquests at Coroners' Courts in the Metropolitan area. As Annie Hamilton, trustee and director of the Coroners' Courts Support Service, explains: 'One of my partners and I had previously worked for Victim Support among other things, and we knew that the Coroners' Court was the Cinderella of courts, getting no real funding from government.'

They decided to take the initiative and open a support service themselves, in order to provide bereaved families and witnesses at inquests with practical support, such as explanation of court procedure and guidance, and emotional support via listening skills and common sense. They had looked at other agencies but found most of them either counselled people or dealt with victims of crime, neither of which was applicable to Coroners' Courts.

Having obtained agreement with Dr. Paul Knapman, H.M. Coroner for Westminster, the pilot scheme began in this court in January 2003. It soon became clear there was a need for such a service, and in November the Home Office Coroners' Unit encouraged them to expand into three more Inner London Courts. These were implemented in October 2004, with the Home Office providing financial support for a pilot year only. A grant from the Wates Foundation and private donations allowed the service to continue in the four Inner London Courts, and this year has seen the service expanding to three Outer London Courts.

The judges stated CCSS is doing 'something incredibly good and important', and said it 'goes to the very heart of civic society to tackle these needs'.

Annie Hamilton
Trustee/director
Westminster Coroners' Court
65 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 2ED
020 7352 8234
Reg no: 1105899
www.coronerscourtssupportservice.org.uk

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