A woman standing in a desert landscape. She is holding a picture frame in front of her face and torso. The contents of the frame is blank, showing the clouds and landscape, suggesting this part of her body is invisible. Text reads: Case Study - the invisible intermediary.

Case Study: The Invisible Intermediary

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this case study reflect the experiences and opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Communicourt. 

A woman standing in a desert landscape. She is holding a picture frame in front of her face and torso. The contents of the frame is blank, showing the clouds and landscape, suggesting this part of her body is invisible. Text reads: Case Study - the invisible intermediary.

A strange paradox about the intermediary role is that, in many (although not all) cases, the more effectively an intermediary supports someone with communication needs to participate in their legal proceedings, the less visible their work can be in the courtroom.

The better emotionally regulated a court user is, the better able they are to maintain their attention, to understand questions put to them in evidence, to understand legal concepts, the court process and the evidence of others – the more smoothly proceedings run, with fewer interventions required by the intermediary in the courtroom itself.

Beyond breaks

For the judge, who makes decisions regarding intermediary applications, the work of an intermediary is often only visible when breaks, adjustments and adaptations are requested in the courtroom. From conversations I have had, there is sometimes the perception that intermediaries do little more than request breaks.

This perception becomes especially significant when judges are considering intermediary applications, and need to decide whether sufficient adaptations can be made by the court, in the absence of an intermediary, to mitigate communication difficulties.

  • The court certainly can implement breaks without the assistance of an intermediary. Although, as a side note, I have witnessed judges ask court users with communication needs directly whether they require a break. In many cases the individual will respond, “No”, either through a desire to conclude proceedings as swiftly as possible, through lack of insight into their needs, or through feeling unable to advocate for their own needs when spoken to by a judge. However, it is evident (from the vantage point of an intermediary) that a break is required to support the person’s attention, emotional regulation and/or ability to continue processing verbal information effectively.

In many cases, much of the most impactful work of an intermediary is undertaken ‘behind the scenes’ in conference rooms and waiting areas, and may only be visible to the court user themselves and their legal team. Such work may include (but is certainly not limited to):

  • Supporting emotional regulation throughout proceedings through building rapport and implementing person-centred strategies (from teaching breathing techniques to manage anxiety in hearings, to implementing methods for the individual to express feelings of frustration in a non-disruptive way – for example, encouraging them to whisper their response to the intermediary, with a clear understanding that this information will be written down and shared with counsel in conference, to ensure they feel heard).
  • Supporting understanding of the court process, through pre-hearing familiarisation visits, visual schedules and other methods (which can have a knock-on positive impact on attention, emotional regulation and overall understanding of the case).
  • Supporting understanding of key issues and legal concepts in the case through simple explanations and/or the use of visual aids in conferences (which can then also be used in the courtroom). This work helps ensure that the court user can give clear, informed instructions to their legal team (preventing unexpected changes in position, or misunderstandings arising) and follow the thrust of hearings more effectively.
  • Working with counsel to ensure the format of questions to be put to the court user in evidence will be clearly understood, and can be clearly responded to.
  • Working with the court user in advance of their evidence to ensure they understand the process of giving evidence (from the meaning of the affirmation, to what steps they should take if they do not understand a question, or lose focus etc).
  • Supporting understanding and retention of important information in the case. For example, through frequent recaps of key points in explanation breaks, or through simple visual aids and/or ‘easy read’ documents, which the individual can take home, clearly setting out key information, such as a contact plan or the rules contained in a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the many ‘invisible intermediary’ tasks a judge may not be privy to in legal proceedings. In fact, as much of our work is person-centred and directly responds to an individual need or communication preference, it is challenging to fully catalogue the ‘unseen’ work which may take place to support effective participation in each, unique case.

Case study

To illustrate this principle, I have provided a case study below. (All names and identifying details have been changed to protect anonymity).

Background

I attended a short hearing to assist a court user. At the last minute, the court user was permitted to attend remotely. I was not informed of this change and attended court in person. No alternative means of communication between myself and the court user had been discussed or arranged. Counsel did not raise the matter with me, so I needed to independently explore ways to assist the court user remotely.

Pre-hearing

I asked for the court user’s contact information from counsel, and called them to explore what communication devices they had and what could be used effectively by them during the hearing. I also used this call to develop rapport, to ensure they felt as comfortable as possible communicating with me.

I established that they would join via a tablet and felt able to text me during the hearing using their smartphone. I was aware from the intermediary report that they were able to read short, simple written information. We successfully trialled communicating via text prior to the hearing. During the pre-hearing call, I provided a simple outline of the structure of the hearing, and the key topics which would be raised (information I had obtained from counsel and sought permission to recap and check with their client).

In the hearing

At the outset of the hearing, before the judge entered the courtroom, the court user texted me, asking who was present. This reassured me that they were able to use this communication channel while joining remotely. I asked those in the courtroom to stand up and introduce themselves and their role via the link, and did so myself. I also thanked the court user for sending me this question, encouraging them to keep using this strategy to raise any difficulties or questions they may have.

  • Although hearing attendees are often formally introduced to the judge at the outset of the hearing, this task is usually undertaken very rapidly by one representative in the case. This can be challenging for some court users with communication needs to follow, and it can be difficult to identify who each person being referred to by the ‘introducer’ is.

When the judge entered and began the hearing, I sought permission to continue communicating with the court user via text.  The judge raised concerns about my attendance, expressing that this was the type of hearing in which intermediary attendance was not appropriate, as I would be unable to be of assistance to a remote court user.

However, as the hearing progressed, unexpected, urgent issues which had not been explained in advance to the court user were raised. Throughout the hearing, I had relayed simple summaries of key points to the court user via text. They responded each time with their view on each matter in simple terms. This indicated that they had read my simplification and understood the thrust of the hearing. When this new matter arose, they expressed confusion via text, and I provided further, simplified explanation.

Once they had a clear understanding of this new matter, they raised a clear view, which I immediately shared with counsel. Counsel could then communicate the court user’s new instructions on the point in their submissions. This was a very important instruction in the context of the case, which changed the trajectory of the hearing, and the next steps in proceedings.

Reflections

Without intermediary assistance in this case, albeit remote, it is my view that the court user would not have understood or followed the new, important matter which was raised. I take this view due to the confusion they expressed via text in response to my initial summary of the point.

In the event that the matter had been attended to and understood by the court user, I am also of the view that they would not have been able to independently raise their new, pivotal instructions with counsel. This is due to two factors:

  • The likely absence of a pre-determined channel of communication with counsel, which could have been used effectively during the hearing
  • Particular difficulties (which I will not explore here to maintain anonymity), which would have made it exceedingly unlikely that the court user would have felt (or been) able to verbally interject via a remote link, or raise their hand, to indicate that they needed to speak with their representative, during the course of the hearing.

The effectiveness of remote intermediary assistance (or otherwise) is a whole issue worthy of another blog post, but I believe this case study illustrates that crucial communication assistance can still be provided in this medium. I also believe it illustrates that a great deal of intermediary work, which can significantly support effective participation, is often ‘invisible’ to judges and other legal representatives.


I hope this blog goes some way towards unpacking some of the ‘unseen’ aspects of the intermediary role. This is simply one example, in my view, of the often ‘invisible support’ which prevents miscommunication, and which helps ensure the effective participation of court users with communication needs.

In my experience, and the experience of Communicourt colleagues I have spoken with, there are many, many other such examples of assistance provided ‘behind the scenes’. These examples will look different to my case study above, as intermediary strategies must be person-centred and are case dependent. But whatever those interventions may be, they are likely to be quietly making a considerable difference to the court user’s effective participation, and to the proceedings as a whole.

Headshot of Maddy, she is standing outside and wearing a light blue shirt.

Former Intermediary awarded Gray’s Inn Scholarship

Headshot of Maddy, she is standing outside and wearing a light blue shirt.

Congratulations to Maddy Burt, who has been awarded a Gray’s Inn Scholarship to support her undertaking the Law Conversion Course and Bar Course. Maddy worked as a Communicourt intermediary, and we are delighted that she will be bringing this experience into her future legal practice. Maddy kindly shared her professional journey, her next steps and what she learned during her time as a court intermediary:

What have you been up to since leaving Communicourt?

I left Communicourt last September, and it has been a whirlwind since then! I moved from London to York, and jumped into two mini pupillages on the northeastern circuit. I then began my law conversion course, which has been eight months of intense study (with Christmas and Easter spent revising for exams). I have enjoyed the course greatly, but am looking forward to having some time off.

Tell us about your scholarship.

I am very grateful to have received a scholarship from Gray’s Inn (one of the four Inns of Court all barristers are a part of) for both my law conversion course and my upcoming bar course. Having the support of Gray’s Inn this past year has helped me financially, given me confidence in my career choice and ability, and allowed me access to all the Inn has to offer, such as mentoring schemes and advocacy development opportunities. I wouldn’t be able to study the bar course full time this coming September without Gray’s Inn continued support through the bar course scholarship.

What’s next for you?

I’m spending the next couple of weeks in court in London and Leeds on mini pupillages, and then I’ll be taking some time off over the summer before starting the Bar Course in September. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the advocacy side of things on the Bar Course.

What are your current career goals?

The areas of law I am most interested in at the moment are crime and family. They are areas I predominantly worked in as an intermediary, and areas I am excited by the prospect of working in as legal counsel. In particular, I am drawn to the importance of client care in both areas, working with people going through a very difficult time, and the frequent opportunities for courtroom advocacy. Depending on the case, there can also be a degree of overlap between the areas.

Did you learn anything from your time as an intermediary, which has supported your career development?

An invaluable skill I learned as an intermediary was communicating with a wide range of people. I would spend a morning presenting a ground rules hearing to a courtroom, justifying and expanding on special measures to a Judge and barristers from the witness box. Then, I would spend the rest of the day breaking down complex court information and expert evidence in order to support a service user with difficulties retaining information. This has further developed my confidence in public speaking, and my creativity in breaking down information – I made use of all sorts from whiteboard drawings to post-it note diagrams.

I also learned how to manage my time effectively, juggling both intermediary assessments and writing up reports with trials and hearings, while travelling around the country – an essential skill to take into the profession of a barrister!

Why did you choose to work as an intermediary?

I was drawn to the intermediary role because of the opportunity it gave me to be in a courtroom on a daily basis in my own capacity as a communication specialist, supporting those with additional needs who would otherwise struggle to engage in the process. Throughout university, I had tutored English to students with learning difficulties and so I had already adopted various strategies to support people with understanding and retention. I saw the intermediary role as an opportunity to continue doing this, while also being immersed in a legal environment.

Has your view of the intermediary role changed, since continuing your legal studies?

It has been interesting attending mini pupillages and being able to watch an intermediary in action – something I rarely got to do while working as an intermediary. I suppose my view of the profession has solidified my feeling that having an intermediary can really support justice being achieved, by allowing people to fully engage in court proceedings involving them. In particular, I feel it is essential for barristers to have vulnerable witness training from as early a stage as possible, both for times when an intermediary is not available or required and for barristers to work most effectively with intermediaries.

The reality is that many more people would benefit from intermediaries than are able to have them, and so ensuring barristers are equipped in how to support their clients who may have communication difficulties is imperative.


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Learn more about court communication from experienced court intermediaries on The Access Brief. A growing library of free resources developed for legal professionals working with clients who have communication needs.

Photo of people hands - an intermediary is helping a court user who is holding a fidget aid while useing a visual timeline and break cards

Working as a Neurodivergent Intermediary

Poster for Neurodiversity Celebration Week (March 18-24, 2024) www.neurodiversityweek.com - featuring Communicourt's logo.

March 18th – 24th is Neurodiversity Celebration Week. While awareness days in general may not be without their faults (see: recent International Women’s Day criticism), these annual markers do provide an important opportunity for visibility – and to inspire action from both individuals and organisations.

The Neurodiversity Celebration Week organisers are hosting a week’s worth of free drop-in sessions and learning opportunities, covering everything from late-discovered autism and the menopause, to good practice for neurodiversity professionals. With many sessions exploring neurodivergence in the workplace, and in keeping with this year’s #ThisISND theme, we wanted to share some insight into the working lives of our intermediaries who identify as neurodivergent.

The following blog post was written by a neurodivergent intermediary, who has been part of a team working to establish a Neurodiversity Network for Communicourt – and the wider group of businesses that we belong to, The RCI Group. The Neurodiversity Network provides a supportive space for colleagues and advocates for neuroinclusive practices.

In this post, our author reflects on their experience of working with neurodivergent court users as a neurodivergent intermediary, the question of disclosure at work, and the benefits of connecting with neurodivergent colleagues. 


Neuroinclusivity and the intermediary role

I work as an intermediary, a role held primarily by those with speech and language therapy and psychology training, in a service built to support people with communications needs and differences. Intermediaries are no strangers to talking about neurodivergence. Never mind a week, we talk about this stuff every day! At least, when it comes to our service users.

If a service user tells us that they have a condition such as ADHD, Autism or Dyslexia, we jump into action considering the areas to explore with them in assessment, the aspects of proceedings that might present an additional challenge, and the adjustments to advocate for. But it’s not always easy to treat our own neurodivergence with the same attitude.

Recently, work has resumed in establishing a Neurodiversity Network for staff members across the RCI Group (of which Communicourt is a member). As part of the initiative, I have started hosting lunchtime drop-in sessions for employees across the group.

Logo for the RCI Group's Neurodiversity Network

Talking with other neurodivergent people who are navigating the world of work was such a positive experience. I practically bounced out of the last session, buoyed by the acknowledgement of how hard we secretly work below the surface, the empathy between attendees, the sharing of useful strategies, and the appetite for connection and change (part of ADHD can be having big feelings, can you tell?).

Why don’t people disclose neurodivergence in the workplace?

One explanation could be the feeling of ‘otherness’. While we meet neurodivergent service users every day, we much less frequently meet colleagues and other professionals who are outspokenly neurodivergent. It can feel isolating and precarious to think you are an outlier. However, there are many more of us in the workplace than one may realise. 1 in 10 working age adults are neurodivergent. In our own Communicourt diversity survey, 17.4% of staff who responded identified themselves as neurodivergent. We are, undeniably, here, and make up a very significant minority of staff.

The way we, as intermediaries, approach our own neurodivergence may also relate to the work we do. As intermediaries, we are often supporting neurodivergent service users in acutely demanding scenarios with very high stakes. Legal proceedings could change the future of their family or result in imprisonment. Although not universally true, our service users may also not have had the same advantages as us – a secure upbringing, consistent access to education, financial stability, diagnoses, medication, support…

In comparison, the barriers we face at work and in everyday life can feel less important and consequential. We can de-prioritise and minimise our own struggles as a result. It can also make it feel uncomfortable to raise difficulties we may be having against the backdrop of the experiences of our service users.

Simosons gif showing Homer setting a ticking timer to represent the Pomodoro method

There is also the fear of stigma and negative perceptions. I myself am guilty of this. Those who have seen me deliver a presentation or lead a meeting, will probably have heard me acknowledge that my ADHD may colour the experience. I tell everyone about my shocking memory, the pomodoro method, serotonin-boosting to-do lists, and my special clock for focusing when I need to create a little motivational urgency. But I don’t acknowledge my ADHD at all with other professionals outside of my Communicourt colleagues. The frank truth is that I don’t want them to think I can’t do my job, that I am a liability, or that they would be better off with an intermediary whose attention span is not powered by (prescribed) low-dose amphetamines.

These feelings can also extend to worries about how colleagues or employers may view you. Raising things you find difficult or requesting support to address your needs can daunting, particularly if you’re new to a company, or looking to progress into a new role. This often leads to what might be described as the quintessential neurodivergent experience – spending an enormous of amount of time, energy, effort and stress behind the scenes to deliver what everyone else seems to be doing with consummate ease, to the detriment of your health, wellbeing and happiness.

Choosing to disclose

Although “there is no legal or professional obligation on workers to disclose a neurodivergent condition” (Thinking Differently at Work, GMB Union), disclosing neurodivergence to an employer can help ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to remove barriers to your work.

Disclosure is not for everybody and may depend on your personal preferences and how supportive you perceive your employer to be. However, in a supportive work environment, disclosing neurodivergence can have a number of benefits, including arranging adaptations and alleviating some of the stress and energy involved in masking (more on that later). Here are a few of the reasons I have found disclosing my neurodivergence at work helpful:

Giving yourself a break
An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with neurodivergent conditions in adulthood. There are also lots of undiagnosed people who identify as neurodivergent. Regardless of whether an official diagnostic process is involved, many people find that having label to explain some of their differences or difficulties provides a huge relief, and can help reduce self-criticism.

In an interview about her later life ADHD diagnosis, Communicourt founder Naomi Mason says, “Instead of blaming myself I blame the ADHD now. I don’t use ADHD as an excuse to other people, but I use it as an excuse to myself – I get cross with the ADHD rather than blaming myself and then my confidence going down”.

Acknowledging the impacts of neurodivergent conditions in the workplace can further that benefit. For people with dyslexia and dyscalculia, constantly apologising for spelling or numerical errors as personal failures can really wear on your self-esteem, as does feedback about making ‘careless mistakes’ on a piece of work you spent extra time going over so carefully. Being able to acknowledge the cause of your difficulties can avoid these errors feeling like a personal failure. Some of my neurodivergent colleagues, for example, add a quick explanatory comment to the top of a piece of work before it is proofread.

Accessing support and adjustments in the workplace
People with neurodivergent conditions have the same protections as people with disabilities under the law. Making employers aware of your neurodivergence brings you under that protection, and means that they are obliged to make adjustments and provide support where necessary. That support can come in a variety of forms, depending on the needs of the individual.

Naomi Mason (Communicourt founder) explains, “I do tell people I have ADHD now […] because I think people need to know that people that appear to be ordinary people might have all sorts of things going on behind the scenes. I can concentrate in meetings, but I come out of a meeting much more tired than other people do, because it’s very difficult to stay focused”

Reasonable adjustments may include practical measures such as screen filters to reduce sensory overwhelm during computer work or improve reading accessibility, the use of quieter parts of the workplace, or the provision of assistive apps or software. 

Neurodiverse employees can also be supported by adjustments to how aspects of their roles and workload are communicated. Again, this will different for each person. For me, executive functioning difficulties can be eased, and lots of time saved, by team leaders and managers clearly outlining which pieces of work should take priority. For other neurodivergent people, adjustments to communication at work might involve being sent a follow up email to confirm information that is given over the phone, the use of instant messaging and text-to-speech apps in place of phone/video calls, or the use of audio recording and dictation tools to support note-taking and retention of information 

Sharing your expertise
The saying goes, that when you’ve met one person with ADHD… they’ve probably got an in-depth knowledge of time management tips they can share (did I mention my special clock?). Neurodivergent people, who often have different strengths and difficulties to the majority, often develop useful methods and strategies which can be a source of valuable source of knowledge for other staff. 

The principles of working in a more neuro-affirming way can often benefit all employees – for instance, implementing accessible meeting guidelines can ensure all voices are heard and discussions are run in a productive, organised manner.

At Communicourt, neurodivergent intermediaries can offer extra, personal insight into the strengths and needs of some of the neurodivergent people we work with, being experts by experience as well as trained communication specialists. The value of this was apparent recently when intermediary Aoife was nominated for a LOVE Award for sharing their experiences of neurodivergence with colleagues during a training session. Their insight highlighted helped to educate colleagues, who then voted Aoife as the winner of their awards category. 

Benefitting your organisation
Not to get all corporate about it, but an increasing number of businesses and organisations are recognising the value of investing in neurodiversity. Companies across a wide range of industries (from Universal Music to JPMorgan Chase) have taken steps such as appointing neurodiversity leads to head up hiring, inclusion and development programs. Over the past two years, 600 organisations have signed up as members of the Neurodiversity In Business Initiative.  

Research by Deloitte Australia found that teams that include and support neurodivergent people are often more effective and productive than those that do not. Industry research additionally has shown that consumers prefer doing business with companies with a workforce that is diverse. EARN (Employer Assistance and Resource Network) suggest, “a workforce that represents the customer base, including neurodivergent people, can help show a business’s commitment to its community.” 

Some neurodivergent people have heightened levels of focus, attention to detail and pattern-recognition. Others thrive in tasks that require dynamic, out-of-the-box, creative thinking. Some are in their element working independently and solving a problem in their own way, whilst others flourish in more collaborative activities, engaging with colleagues to spark new ideas and make connections.  

Embracing neurodiversity allows organisations to benefit from a diversity of perspectives, incorporating a range of views and experiences. Being informed about the diverse skills and needs of employees and providing adjustments and support, where needed, enables employers to make the most of everything their neurodivergent employees have to offer.

Alleviating some of the pressure to mask
Masking refers to hiding or concealing your differences, in order to appear neurotypical. It can be exhausting. For example, someone who is autistic may spend a huge amount of effort suppressing their natural behaviours (like stimming) and pretending that they are not overwhelmed. At the same time, they may also be observing what other people around them are doing and trying to appear the same – all while doing their everyday work.

Trisha Dunbar, writing for for/by, describes the effort that went into concealing her dyslexia at work. “I got good at hiding my learning differences. Determined to avoid spelling or grammar errors, I would double- or even triple-check everything I produced.”

Disclosing neurodiversity can reduce this additional, secret workload.

“I stopped wasting energy on suppressing my behaviors. I’m now making active decisions to live the life that best supports my ADHD. It’s raised my self-esteem and my self-respect. And it’s made life even better” – Kim To, writing for for/by.

Finding peer support
“The greatest help, though, has been finding a colleague to confide in about my struggles. I don’t disclose more than I’m ready to, but being even just a little bit open at work about my ADHD has helped me feel more confident in my abilities. Support is a huge help when you’re feeling alone in your challenges.” – Myra Flores writing for for/by.

As touched on previously, conversation about neurodiversity in the workplace is on the increase, both in individual organisations and in cross-sector initiatives such as Neurodiversity Celebration Week (which this year features several events centred on the workplace, which can be rewatched via their event pages).

I have felt, first-hand, the difference that inclusion policy, informed staff and leadership, and a culture where neurodivergence can be disclosed and supported makes to my working life. But it’s the connection with other neurodivergent colleagues which fired the bout of hyper-focus that resulted in this blog post.

The Neurodiversity Network drop-in sessions held over recent weeks revealed the appetite for peer connection. Attendees from across the RCI group braved the daunting prospect of joining a video call with a bunch of strangers to talk about the things that can make us feel ‘different’. Some of us had long-standing diagnoses, some had received recent adult diagnoses and others were at the very start of exploring possible neurodivergence. After a few awkward introductions were made, conversation shifted to all the things we have in common.

Difficulties, quirks, strengths, strategies and things we’d like to learn more about. I found myself vigorously nodding along, and having to regularly mute myself on Teams, such was my instinct to say ‘me too!’ so often. We seemed to swiftly shed any of the usual hesitation we might usually have about announcing, in a work-related setting, all the things about our job we most struggle with.

We’re only two sessions in, and I hope that we will reach many neurodivergent people across the network in the weeks and months ahead. The need for and value of establishing a Neurodiversity Network feels undeniable, to provide a regular space for this connection and a digital space to store the resources and advice shared.


A huge thank you to our author for sharing their experiences and insights – and for playing a crucial role in setting up our fledgling Neurodiversity Network. The Communicourt team and wider RCI Group are really excited to see this supportive space flourish and support our organisation to continually improve neuroinclusivity.

Neurodivergence is not only an important part of Communicourt’s internal practices, it is also a big part of the work we do in the courts. Legal proceedings can include a huge number of barriers to the effective participation of neurodivergent court users. Our job is to advocate for adaptations and implement strategies which remove those barriers, giving our service users fair access to proceedings which could shape the course of their lives.

The Access Brief LogoIf you are a legal professional working with a client who is neurodivergent, you may find our library of free resources helpful. The Access Brief includes quick ‘bite-sized’ guides to working with court users with a wide range of diagnoses and communication differences, including autism, ADHD, learning disability, numeracy difficulties and literacy difficulties. You can download guides for free from the Communicourt website.

Intermediary case law update: Mrs Justice Lieven [2024] EWHC 79 (Fam)

In January 2024, a new High Court Judgment from Mrs Justice Lieven was published, including guidance on intermediary use in family proceedings (West Northamptonshire Council v KA & Ors [2024]). The case concerned a mother who required a deaf intermediary (a highly specialised service performed by very precious few professionals currently working in England & Wales, and not offered by Communicourt). The case was subject to considerable delays due to non-availability of a suitable intermediary.

Below you will find a quick guide to what has changed, and extra information about some practical considerations which may arise in response.

Please note: This post is intended to provide informal guidance and the views of Communicourt at the time of publication. If you have questions regarding the instruction of an intermediary in a specific case, the matter should always be discussed directly with the presiding judge. If you require further information regarding our intermediary service, please contact admin@communicourt.co.uk or telephone: 0121 663 0931.

Can I still request an intermediary to assist in family court?

Yes, applications for intermediary assistance at all stages of family proceedings can still be made and approved.

The new guidance does not prevent a judge from granting intermediary assistance throughout proceedings, if there are “compelling” reasons to do so (see below).

What did the guidance say?

Ms Justice Lieven noted that guidance regarding intermediary appointments in the family court was not clearly set out in the Family Procedure Rules or any Practice Direction. She advised the guidance used in criminal proceedings should also be applied in family proceedings. As in criminal cases, intermediaries can still be used throughout family proceedings, subject to applications.

In some cases, an intermediary may only be approved to assist family court users at certain stages of proceedings (for example, when evidence is particularly complex, or during the court user’s evidence).

The key points from the R v Thomas (Dean) guidance which the family courts will now adopt are as follows:

R v Thomas (Dean) guidancePoints to consider
Intermediaries should only be appointed if there are “compelling” reasons to do so.Communicourt only recommends intermediary assistance when the assessing intermediary finds there is a compelling reason to do so. The reasons for the recommendation are clearly set out in the intermediary report, with reference to Appendix 1 (which documents observations and findings from the assessment in detail, supporting the recommendations we make).

Communicourt reports highlight observed communication difficulties and the likely impact of these difficulties on a court user’s ability to participate effectively in proceedings. This information can be used by advocates to present a compelling argument when making an application for an intermediary.

We do not recommend in every case. Our intermediaries are salaried employees and have no incentive to recommend or otherwise. Referrals are typically made following a recommendation from a psychologist or first-hand experience of communication difficulties with a client from a solicitor. This means there is a high probability that the referred individual does indeed have a communication difficulty which will impact their participation in proceedings.
It will be “exceptionally rare” for an order for an intermediary to be appointed for a whole trial. Intermediaries are not to be appointed on a “just in case” basis. It is for the Judge to take a view regarding how rare they consider the content of the case and the needs of the court user to be, after considering the intermediary report, other professional reports (if available) and the application for an intermediary.
The Judge must give careful consideration, not merely to the circumstances of the individual but also to the facts and issues in the case. This is an important consideration. Assessing intermediaries do not have access to information about the case when conducting assessments, and therefore it is for the judge to make a holistic decision regarding the support needed in the case (for example, if there is complex medical evidence which the individual will require support to follow).

The intermediary report will clearly set out areas of communication difficulty and the likely impact of these difficulties in legal proceedings. The judge can use this information to decide at what stages of proceedings, a court user will require intermediary assistance.

It is important to consider that family proceedings are often lengthy and unpredictable. For example, expert witnesses can be required at the last minute, or a party’s position may change on the morning of a Final Hearing. Court users with communication needs may have to make important, informed decisions which require them to understand emotive, complex and abstract information, under considerable pressure.

To avoid delays to cases, we recommend that, if there are any concerns about a court user’s communication, a referral is made for an intermediary assessment at the earliest opportunity (assessment wait times are approximately 2-3 weeks and reports are completed within 5 working days. Urgent assessments can typically be accommodated much sooner). This means that, if case content changes and an intermediary is required at short notice, they can be allocated as soon as possible.
In determining whether to appoint an intermediary the Judge must have regard to whether there are other adaptations which will sufficiently meet the need to ensure that the court user can effectively participate in the trial. Communicourt reports set out a full list of recommendations which will support a court user’s participation in legal proceedings. However, if an intermediary is recommended, it is because the assessing intermediary is of the view that, even with these recommendations in place, the court user will not be able to participate effectively without intermediary assistance.

If the judge takes the view that intermediary assistance is not required throughout proceedings, the additional recommendations can still be applied to support your client’s participation to some extent.
The application must be considered carefully and with sensitivity, but the recommendation by an expert for an intermediary [for example a psychologist] is not necessarily a deciding factor. Although not determinative, the views of experts should, of course, contribute to the decision-making process for the judge.
If no intermediary is available, cases should almost never be adjourned. Instead, adaptations should be implemented to support participation in the absence of an intermediary.As above, we recommend that intermediary assessments are requested at the earliest possible stage, to allow intermediaries to be assigned promptly to cases. Communicourt assessment wait times are approximately 2-3 weeks and reports are completed within 5 working days. Urgent assessments can typically be accommodated more quickly, in some cases within a few working days.

Please let us know your hearing dates and we will be able to give you a transparent view of whether or not we are likely to be able to provide an intermediary for the hearings. We have over 100 full time intermediaries working across England and Wales, so this is unlikely to be an issue. Subject to the demands on the service, we are often able to accommodate urgent requests.


If you have any questions regarding intermediary assistance for your client in light of the new judgement, please contact
admin@communicourt.co.uk or telephone us on 0121 663 0931 (Mon-Fri, 9am-4.30pm).

Reflections from the Access to Justice Conference 2023

This month  we hosted Communicourt’s first ever conference. Held in partnership with UK legal reform charity JUSTICE, the Access to Justice Conference 2023 took place in Leeds and online, with attendees including legal practitioners, law students, clinical psychologists, ISVAs (independent sexual violence advisors) and representatives from many other connected professions.

Now that the dust has settled, we’d like to reflect on some of the most important messages and discussions generated by the conference – and give a big thank you to all of our guests and speakers. The whole Communicourt team is extremely grateful to have been able to take part in such a multidisciplinary conversation about making justice more accessible – and we’re very pleased to have been able to share a range of perspectives on this multifaceted issue.

Although the majority of our speakers focussed on criminal proceedings, many of the ideas they shared are also applicable in the family courts and other proceedings. Though it wasn’t possible to explore every factor which may result in barriers to participation (on this occasion), we hope conversations around diagnoses like autism, learning disability and trauma, offered a window into some key areas for improvement – which stand to benefit all court users, including those with other accessibility requirements.

Full recordings and resources from the conference will be shared with all attendees by the end of November.

Chris Packham: Video-recorded foreword

We are incredibly grateful to broadcaster, naturalist and environmental campaigner, Chris Packham, who very generously shared his experiences of attending court as an autistic claimant. Chris’ clip was played at the outset of the event, setting the stage for broader discussions about inclusion in legal proceedings.

Chris eloquently reflected on the importance of predictability and foreknowledge for autistic people attending court. He explained that familiarisation with the hearing process and environment could be very important steps for court users, assisting them to manage difficult emotions (such as anxiety) more effectively, and allowing them to focus on the matter at hand.

Speaking about the court environment itself, Chris showed us the courtroom through his individual autistic lens, commenting that it was “a terrible cluttered jumble… The visual complexity of that environment was challenging for a while. Lots of hanging chandeliers, some with bulbs that were working, some with bulbs that weren’t…”, and remarking that it took him around two hours to feel that he was not distracted by the complex visual environment. He explained, “If I’m managing my autism, I’m not focusing on what I need to be focusing on”.

Chris also raised the enduring issue of audibility in legal proceedings – a matter which affects all court users, regardless of neurodivergence. He commented, “It was very difficult to hear. There were suspended microphones, but they didn’t seem to amplify the voices of the barristers at all. […] because we were sat behind the barristers who were facing the judge […] a number of people were struggling to hear […] whether you’re neurodiverse or not, that’s really frustrating. You’ve got to be able to hear that stuff”.

In summing up, Chris shared what he described as very “simple”, common sense suggestions for making the courts more accessible for autistic people – particularly sharing clear, detailed information about the hearing process and environment in advance. He also suggested the provision of videos showing the specific courtroom the individual would attend, to allow them to familiarise themselves with the setting in advance.

Although related resources do exist (like the video guide for witnesses attending court below, created by the Ministry of Justice), most videos of this type depict a generic courtroom in optimum condition. This does not often reflect the realities of most courtrooms and does not offer insight into the specific setting the autistic court user will attend.

In addition, many such videos are filmed for use by witnesses, rather than by other participants in proceedings. In this example, complex vocabulary like “specific” and “prosecutorial agency” is used, which would not be easily understood by all court users. Non-literal language (“testing the strength of the prosecution”) is also used, which may not be easily understood by some autistic court users.

Although Chris modestly described his suggestions as simple, questioning whether they would be of any help, his common-sense ideas are important – and, in fact, quite challenging to implement in the most effective way. These are certainly suggestions worth further exploration.

His Honour Judge Neil Clark

Opening the speaker sessions, HHJ Neil Clark provided a far-reaching overview of our legal system’s continuing journey towards improved accessibility. He acknowledged that change is about gradual evolution, rather than dramatic shifts, pointing to how far our legal system has come over the past 150 years. He commented: “It wasn’t until 1851 that the defendant in a civil case could give [any] evidence in their own defence. It wasn’t until 1898 and the passing of the Criminal Evidence Act, that the first defendant was able to give evidence under oath at all”.

His Honour also offered a glimpse into his particular interest in accessible justice, explaining that, when his mother developed a degenerative condition, he began to consider whether “bright people like her, with communication needs” would have real access to justice. He commented, “When I went to court and saw someone giving evidence, I’d think, I wonder how my mum would feel about doing that?”.

HHJ Clark also reflected upon the meaning of ‘best evidence’, noting that “achieving best evidence doesn’t just mean from the perspective of the prosecution” and asked, “In criminal court, why is it that we focus so much on cross-examination?”.

Kama Melly KC

The next speaker tackled the topic of person-centred approaches to special measures, with a particular focus on trauma-informed practice and working with young court users. Kama Melly KC provided a great deal of insight into the realities of legal proceedings for court users with vulnerabilities, and for those representing them. In her experience-driven, pragmatic presentation, she shared many of the overlooked barriers to effective participation which go unaddressed in legal proceedings – and many of the small adjustments which can be made to assist (but are all-too-rarely implemented).

In one, striking example (which will not be at all unfamiliar to intermediaries), Kama stated: “I watched [a] child give evidence for hours without breaks, until she agreed with every single question. She was asked frequently if she wanted a break by the judge. She didn’t want a break, she wanted to get out, so she said ‘no’ every time”. She added, “This wasn’t about ensuring the defendant had a fair trial. It was about putting the case and getting to the final objective”.

While the Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act (1999) set out a number of broad special measures (such as video-link evidence and intermediary assistance), Kama’s presentation highlights the myriad ‘small barriers’ which prevent court users from participating in legal proceedings fairly, which are very often overlooked and brushed aside due to factors like time constraints.

Attempting to address these ‘small’ (but very significant) barriers, therefore, falls to individual legal practitioners and, in some cases, intermediaries, who have first-hand insight into the communication needs of the court users they work with. However, under considerable professional pressure, not all advocates have the time or resources to ensure such barriers are addressed. Kama shared some examples from her own practice, which illustrate the deep thoughtfulness of approach which is often required to support a vulnerable court user.

She explained that she often chooses to ‘give words’ to her clients, which they can use to advocate for themselves during cross-examination. For example, telling them that, if they feel pressured to give a binary ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer in the witness box, they should say something like, “I’m sorry, I can’t explain that in one word”, which will prompt the judge to allow them to provide a more nuanced response.

Kama also explained her practice with regards to witness statements: “Everyone who reads their witness statement thinks they have taken it all in and they put it to one side. I annoy police officers. I make them read them out to the witness.”

Although intermediaries frequently work alongside excellent, intuitive and client-focussed barristers, the attuned practice outlined by Kama during her presentation is very uncommon. Very few legal practitioners, no matter how well-intentioned, have the bandwidth to ensure their practice is truly person-centred and responds to the specific needs of the client on this level.

Speaking later, during the panel discussion, Kama stated that trauma-informed questioning will “be the next big training we all engage with [as legal practitioners]”, also noting that updating training would be very beneficial for more senior legal practitioners, whose knowledge, awareness and skillset may not be in-step with current best practice around trauma.

Andi Brierley

Drawing on both his lived experience of care, drug addiction and the youth justice system, and his extensive experience of working in youth justice, Andi Brierley addressed how we, as professionals, engage with young people caught up in the criminal justice system. His presentation highlighted that, although treated as discrete labels, terms like “perpetrator”, “defendant”, “criminal”, “witness” and “victim” are often overlapping. He spoke about the impact of adverse childhood experiences and the common pathways into the criminal justice system, which can lead from disadvantage.

Andi encouraged the audience to be more intentional in their communication with young defendants and offenders, stating, “When we come into contact with those children [who have not had attuned care], Every interaction is an intervention”, adding, “Change the word engagement to connection. Switch from ‘they’re not engaging’ to ‘we’re not connecting’. Relationships are reciprocal, you’ve got responsibility for that, too”.

Dr Katie Maras

Researcher and senior lecturer, Dr Katie Maras’ presentation explored a wide range of topics relating to the experiences of autistic people subject to police questioning and cross-examination. Her talk included information about memory differences in autistic people, the most and least helpful questioning approaches, and relevant studies (like Bagnell et al, 2023, which have found that “truth-telling autistic mock-suspects reported fewer extricating details that would support their innocence than non-autistic mock-suspects”).

Katie then considered the barriers an autistic defendant may face at court, and shared her project regarding the effectiveness of special measures in cases involving autistic people. This project is currently examining important questions, such as: “What effect do Special Measures have on autistic witnesses’ and defendants’ experiences and ability to provide their ‘best evidence’ and are further measures needed?” and “What is the effect of special measures, diagnosis disclosure and juror instructions on how autistic individuals are perceived by jurors and judges?”.

Katie also invited legal professionals with experience of working with autistic people in court or tribunals to participate in her current project, which still requires participants. Participants can undertake an online questionnaire or take part in an approximately one-hour remote interview (those who take part will receive a £10 shopping voucher). Complete the questionnaire here: https://uniofbath.questionpro.eu/t/AB3uyQnZB3vi1j or contact autismincourt@bath.ac.uk for more information.

Edmore Masendeke

Concluding the speaker sessions, University of Leeds PhD student, Edmore, shared his research into “The court experiences of defendants with mental health conditions or learning disabilities in England”. Although drawing from a small sample, Edmore’s research uncovered some valuable insights into the court experiences of his participants.

The quotes included in his presentation vividly shared these experiences, and the barriers these individuals faced to participation. For example, one interviewee explained, I didn’t understand what was happening. It was like I was in a daze; like I didn’t really understand what … what the questions were asking, and like what court is like, you know, I guess, how to get in … I didn’t understand like what the judge is saying or any questions that they are asking me, to be fair. It was just mumbo jumbo. It is just like in a different language which, you know, I really didn’t understand.”

Another participant reported, “I was unsure whether I was acquitted, that is, a formal declaration that I was not guilty of the charges put in front of me. He (the solicitor) said ‘No, I wasn’t acquitted. The case was dropped.’ So … that … that only came … that was only explained to me weeks afterwards…”,

Concluding his presentation, Edmore stated, “There has been very little empirical research on the effectiveness of the support measures that courts are expected to rely on in the absence of intermediary assistance – and defendants with cognitive impairments’ views and opinions of that experience. The findings of this research suggest that those who received the support found it beneficial, while those who did not receive this support found it difficult to follow and understand what was happening during court proceedings”.

A big thank you

The entire Communicourt team would like to thank each attendee and speaker for their time, knowledge, and engagement with the important topic of access to justice. We sincerely hope that the event has generated discussions about how we can all work to further improve the accessibility of the justice system.

As His Honour Judge Clark points out, these improvements may be slow and incremental, which makes continuing these conversations – and keeping accessibility firmly in mind in our daily practice – extremely important. We are particularly inspired by Kama Melly KC’s identification of the myriad ‘smaller’ barriers and accommodations, which can make a big difference to an individual’s participation in legal proceedings (provided they are implemented in an attuned way). There is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, if those working alongside court users can more easily identify barriers and continue to share our practice, we can slowly make positive change on an individual level.


Bagnall, R., Russell, A., Brosnan, M. & Maras, K. (2023). Police suspect interviews with autistic adults: The impact of truth telling vs deception on testimony. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1117415

Further resources

Interested in learning more about communication differences and difficulties which can impact participation in legal proceedings? The Access Brief is a library of free bite-sized guides to everything from ADHD at court, to how an intermediary can work alongside an interpreter to support a court user’s understanding of proceedings.

For further information and queries, please contact events@communicourt.co.uk

DLD Day: A hidden difficulty in legal proceedings

20th October 2023 marks Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Day. The importance of this event is not to be underestimated. DLD is one of the least known speech, language and communication difficulties, but a condition which affects approximately 7.6% of all children (amounting to around 1 million children in the UK). Its prevalence in adults is unknown, however, DLD is a lifelong condition and a great many adults with DLD are likely to be undiagnosed.

What is DLD?

DLD is a learning difficulty (like dyslexia, ADHD and dyspraxia), which specifically affects an individual’s language skills. A person with DLD will have difficulty “learning, understanding and using language”. They may struggle to follow language (e.g., instructions and verbal information), find it difficult to learn new vocabulary (for example, terminology used in a court case), and have difficulty expressing themselves with clarity.

In terms of expressive language, a person with DLD may use very short and simple sentences, struggling to express more complex or detailed information clearly. They may make more frequent use of generic placeholder words instead of specific terms (e.g., “Thingy” instead of “Threshold”), their expressive language may be ‘jumbled’ and difficult to follow (featuring lots of hesitations, broken sentences, or verbs which don’t match with pronouns).


Quick Resources

You can find a factsheet on DLD from Raise Awareness of DLD (RADLD) here.

Download Communicourt’s free guide to DLD in legal proceedings here (which includes tips for legal professionals working with a client who has DLD).

Listen to our Accessing Justice Podcast episode on DLD with Becky Clark (speech & language therapist)


DLD in adults

Although DLD prevalence statistics generally relate to children, DLD is a lifelong condition, which also affects adults. Previously known by other labels such as Specific Language Impairment (SLI), and expressive-receptive language disorder, today’s terminology for the condition was coined in 2017. Prior to the use of this diagnostic label, few diagnoses of “SLI” (and related terms) were made. As such, very few adults with DLD have ever received a diagnosis or specific support for their language difficulties.

Working as an intermediary, I am yet to encounter an adult who has a diagnosis of DLD, despite encountering many court users who present with specific difficulties with language (unrelated to another diagnosis, such as a learning disability).

This lack of diagnosis, combined with widespread unawareness of DLD, results in many adults living with a hidden learning difficulty. This carries with it many possible negative impacts, including an increased likelihood of interaction with the criminal justice system.

To mark DLD Day in 2022, we shared some statistic regarding the prevalence of DLD in the criminal justice system (CJS). These statistics remain troubling, illustrating the high level of language difficulty within the CJS:

Raise Awareness this DLD Day

This year, the theme of DLD Day is DLD Around the World, spreading awareness of DLD in countries across the globe. You can find lots of resources, including DLD factsheets in different languages on the RADLD website. Here you will also find information about the DLD “Light Up” events (where buildings across the world are illuminated in purple and yellow to raise awareness) and lots of brilliant resources (like pre-made social media posts) you can share to increase awareness and understanding of DLD. To show your support, why not…

Green speech bubble on yellow background, inside the bubble are three dots, indicating a pause.

Understanding Selective Mutism & adapting legal proceedings

Green speech bubble on yellow background, inside the bubble are three dots, indicating a pause.

October is Selective Mutism Awareness Month. This month, we published a new edition of the Accessing Justice Podcast. In the latest episode, intermediary, Demi, interviews speech & language therapist Susannah Thomson about all things Selective Mutism (including the fantastic work of SMIRA, the Selective Mustism Information & Research Association). Demi has also produced a blog, exploring the topic in more detail, considering its possible impacts in legal proceedings and sharing some strategies which can assist court users with selective mutism (SM) – which legal professionals can use. Take a listen and read more below:

What is selective mutism?

Selective mutism is a condition in which individuals are unable to speak in certain situations. The situations in which the person may be unable to speak vary. For some, it may affect them in public settings, or around professionals, for others, it may impact their communication with relatives or specific people in their lives. Selective mutism is thought to be an anxiety disorder. Although it can impact adults, it is believed to be more common in children and often arises during childhood.

In this post, we will be exploring selective mutism, its possible impact on court users, alternative communication approaches and strategies to facilitate communication with someone who has selective mutism during legal proceedings. 

Although many adults have selective mutism (including a number of court users who work with an intermediary), research into the condition overwhelmingly focuses on selective mutism in childhood. The following are facts and statistics arising from this research:

  • Selective mutism is thought to be an anxiety disorder. This can mean a person is unable to speak in certain social situations, such as with classmates at school or to relatives they do not see very often.
  • Selective mutism affects about 1 in 140 young children. It’s more common in girls and children who have recently moved to a new country.
  • Research suggests that there is no single cause for the condition. However, psychologists believe that factors such as, emotional, psychological and social experiences can impact the condition (Johnson & Wintgens, 2001).
  • Those with Selective Mutism will speak in some situations e.g., at home but remain consistently silent in others (court proceedings). They may have a blank expression or appear ‘frozen’ when expected to speak (Goodman & Scott, 1997).
  • It is important to know that people with Selective Mutism often want to speak but, due their anxiety and other factors, they feel physically unable to do so.
  • Although research focuses on selective mutism in childhood can also persist into, or arise in, adulthood. Currently there are no statistics to indicate how many adults experience Selective Mutism. However, it is noted that less than 1% of the overall population experience Selective Mutism.

Common selective mutism presentations:

Selective Mutism presents differently in each individual. However, there are some common symptoms and presentations which may be seen in people with the condition. They may:

  • Find it difficult to look at you when they are anxious – they may turn their heads away and seem to ignore you. You might think that they are not engaging, but this is often not the case. Instead, they are likely to be having difficulty responding.
  • Not smile or look blank or expressionless when anxious – in court, for example, they may be feeling anxious much of the time and it may, therefore, be challenging for them to express themselves non-verbally.
  • Move stiffly or awkwardly when anxious, or if they think that they are being watched.
  • Find it very difficult to answer to questions asked of them, or to say hello, goodbye or thank-you – this may appear rude, but it is not intentional.
  • Be slow to respond in any way to a question (including when using alternative communication strategies – see below).
  • Worry more than other people.
  • Be very sensitive to noise, touch or crowds.
  • Be intelligent, perceptive and inquisitive.
  • Be very sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others.
  • Find it difficult to express their own feelings.
  • Have good attention skills.

Impact in legal proceedings

For court users with selective mutism, communicating, engaging and participating in legal proceedings can be particularly challenging. Communication is essential to effective participation, from giving instructions to a solicitor, to giving evidence in the courtroom. When court users face a ‘communication gap’ they may be unable to tell their legal team when they disagree with a point of evidence or ask questions about an aspect of their case they do not understand.

There are also many specific stages in different legal proceedings when selective mutism may result in difficulties with participation. For example, in criminal proceedings, individuals are expected to address the court to state their date of birth, name, address and plea. For an individual with Selective Mutism, this may not be possible verbally. Meanwhile, for unrepresented parties (e.g., in a private family case), there are even greater demands upon communication in the courtroom itself, in the absence of an advocate to speak on their behalf.

It’s also important to note that, for some people with selective mutism, meetings with professionals (e.g., their solicitor or the guardian in care proceedings) and being in a formal court setting, discussing emotive topics or great personal significance, are likely to increase anxiety which can exacerbate selective mutism symptoms. This may make it particularly challenging for individuals to communicate verbally and regulate their emotions during legal proceedings.


Alternative communication at court

simple communication cards (Yes, No, Don't know, Break please)

In order to support an individual with selective mutism to communicate at different stages in proceedings, alternative communication strategies are often necessary. For example, an individual selective mutism could:

  • Tell the information to a trusted communication partner they feel able to speak to. The communication partner can then repeat the information verbatim to the court (or in conferences with the individual’s legal team).
  • Write their response on paper to be shared or read aloud by a nominated person.
  • Write their response on a whiteboard to be held up.
  • Type their response on a laptop. This could be screenshared within the court (so responses can be seen in real time on screen), shown in conferences, read aloud by a nominated person, or read through text-to-speech software (see below).
  • Type their response using a CVP, Teams or Zoom chatbox during a remote or hybrid hearing or meeting.
  • Type their response using a smartphone (this may be a preferred option for court users who are not used to typing with laptops, or who have literacy difficulties – as many phones use predictive options). This could be read aloud by a nominated person.
  • Use gesture or visual aids, if they are unable to read, write or speak to a trusted person (e.g., “Yes”, “No”, “Don’t know”, “Please repeat” cards which the individual can point to). Here is a useful source of free, printable communication cards.

When identifying an alternative communication strategy, there are some important aspects to keep in mind:

  1. The strategy should accommodate the court user’s unique profile of skills, strengths and difficulties. For example, an individual with dyslexia may find hand-writing responses particularly challenging. Alternatively, an older person or individual who does not use technology routinely, may have difficulty using a laptop or smartphone to communicate.
  2. In the individual is giving evidence, the alternative communication strategy should be trialled in advance, to ensure the court user is able to use this method in the courtroom and feels comfortable doing so. Different settings can impact an individual with selective mutism differently and increased anxiety can play a significant role. A familiarisation visit to the witness box or location from which they will give evidence can prove helpful, allowing opportunity for a ‘test run’ (using neutral questions) and acclimatising the court user to the setting (which can reduce anxiety, thereby supporting more effective communication).
  3. If written communication is not possible (for example if the service user is unable to read or write), exploring whether there are individuals with whom they feel able to speak is an important step, as relying on gesture and resources like communication cards is likely to result in limited or unclear responses, which lack detail and clarity. In some cases, a court user may feel able to whisper to this individual, which can then be repeated. In others, they may feel able to speak with the individual in a private space. Their responses can then be written down or typed by the designated person, to be shared with the court user’s legal team or the court (depending on the stage of proceedings).
  4. It’s also important to consider the environment the individual is in, as increased anxiety can adversely impact communication of all types. For example, a person with selective mutism may feel better able to communicate during their evidence if permitted to do so from behind a screen or remotely. During conferences, a person with selective mutism may be unable to speak with their trusted person in front of their legal team, but may feel able to do so if seated in a private room, from which the designated communication partner can relay questions and responses (verbally or in written form).

Text-to-speech tools

If the court user is comfortable typing on a laptop. Text-to-speak software is available, which allows typed messages to be read aloud.

  • Natural Readers – A free text to speech website which can be used by anyone.
  • Speechify – A free website, allowing users to pick the voice and the speed of talking (also available as an app).

Case study

I once attended an assessment to assess a young defendant called Harry [names and indentifying details have been changed]. We met at his solicitor’s office, with his mother present.

When we first met, his mother asked if I knew about his conditions, and I explained I did not. She explained that Harry does not talk and that he has selective mutism. I asked his mum how Harry prefers to communicate, she confirmed that he likes to communicate through pen and paper, and I adapted the assessment process to suit his preferences.

Harry had diagnoses of anxiety, autism and selective mutism. On first meeting, he appeared anxious, he did not make any eye contact and he would use a fidget object that I provided throughout the meeting to assist with his concentration and emotional management.

We were able to complete the assessment using pen and paper. I would ask Harry a question and he would write his answer down. If I had to ask further prompt questions to elicit more information, this process was repeated. I began thinking about ways to make the process easier for him in court proceedings.

I worked with Harry at the first hearing following the assessment. I spoke to Harry and asked whether he would feel comfortable enough to write his answers down and for me to read these to court. Harry communicated that he was comfortable with this approach.  I was very conscious to involve Harry in the process. As he was unable to speak, it was extremely important that he still had a voice in the proceedings. I met with the legal advisor prior to the hearing and explained Harry’s condition and that he did not feel he would be able to speak in the court environment. I explained the strategies discussed with Harry and explored whether the court would accept the proposed approach. The legal advisor explained they were happy with this way forward and happy to make adaptions to allow Harry to participate.

As part of my role as an intermediary, I shared my recommendations with the court during a Ground Rules Hearing before the hearing commenced, to help Harry best participate throughout the trial.

The recommendations which were agreed in court included:

  • All counsel to refer to Harry by his first name, to aid his engagement throughout proceedings and reduce any feelings of anxiety.
  • Harry to be permitted to use a fidget aid, both in the dock and if giving evidence, to assist his concentration.
  • Harry to write his answers to questions down on paper to be read aloud to the court by the intermediary.
  • Any verdict to be read one line at a time, for me to go through this key information in real-time with Harry, to allow him to better understand the final decision.
  • Harry’s mum to sit in the dock, to aid with his anxiety (for emotional support purposes only).

The magistrates approved all of these measures.

Working with Harry more than once allowed me to build rapport with him, as the trial progressed he appeared increasingly comfortable and began to make some eye contact with me. Our communication improved as our rapport built. At times, he felt able to shake his head to indicate “yes” or “no”, which had previously not been possible. The adaptions to his trial allowed him to participate in the proceedings.


Tips and strategies when assisting someone who has selective mutism

  • Get informed. Selective Mutism is a very rare condition and there is a lot of information out there to assist professionals to better support individuals with Selective Mutism. Some useful sources include:
  • Take your time. It is important that an individual with Selective Mutism does not feel pushed or rushed to make decisions. They may need extra time in court proceedings, so you are able to ensure they have a good understanding of proceedings and of any key decisions that need to be made.
  • One size does not fit all. Ensure any adaptations you suggest or implement are person-centred. Take time to when and how the individual is best able to communicate. Talking to those close to them may support your understanding. Use this information to identify adaptations tailoer to the individual (for example, do not suggest texting if the person will not be able to use this strategy), to help ensure they can participate in the best possible way.
  • Encourage non-verbal communication such as, pointing, nodding shaking of their head. Do not try to get them to speak.
  • Look out for phrases such as ‘I don’t know’. This may mean they haven’t understood the question, don’t know how to answer, or simply want to move on. Spend additional time checking understanding, to ensure important information has been processed and retained accurately.

Cited Sources

Maggie Johnson & Alison Wintgens (2001) The Selective Mutism Resource Manual. Speechmark Publishing Ltd.

Robert Goodman & Stephen Scott (1997). Child Psychiatry, Blackwell Science.

A black and white picture of Georgia on a blue background

My Intermediary Journey: Georgia and speaking English as a second language

A black and white picture of Georgia on a blue background

Hello, everyone! I’m Georgia, and I’ve been working as an intermediary at Communicourt for the past year and a half. I was born and grew up in Greece and moved to the UK over five years ago for my post-graduate studies. English is my second language, and I must admit that I didn’t always feel confident in my English proficiency.

I began learning English during my primary school years, but it was more of a basic level, similar to how students in the UK start learning French or German in primary school. About a year before moving to the UK, I took fast-pace English lessons to reach a more fluent level. At that time, I could communicate quite well in English, although I wasn’t nearly as skilled or confident as I am today. My journey has been an incredible learning experience, and I would like to share some of the insights I’ve gained along the way.

Embracing accents

One of the initial difficulties I faced upon arriving in the UK was dealing with various accents. Learning English from a Greek teacher didn’t fully prepare me for the many different British accents. I distinctly remember struggling to understand people during my early days here. I remember being at cafes when they asked, ‘Stay in or take away?’ and I had to ask them to repeat it. It took me a few months to get used to the British accent.

Little did I know that five years later, I would be working as an intermediary, communicating daily with court professionals and people with communication difficulties, in many different parts of the country, with a host of diverse accents and dialects. This experience has massively improved my ability to adapt and understand different accents. Through my experience, I’ve learned that building rapport and spending time attuning to each others is essential when meeting someone with an unfamiliar accent. Also, patience and active listening play a crucial role in bridging communication gaps.

Hearing various accents has not only improved my understanding but also made me appreciate the linguistic diversity that exists in the UK. It’s a testament to the beauty of language and the importance of inclusivity.

I understand that my own accent is unique, and individuals who are not used to hearing it may initially find it challenging. However, I’ve not yet experienced problems with court users understanding my way of speaking. The key here is the same: patience and building rapport can assist people to comprehend diverse accents. In my role as an intermediary, I always speak at a slow pace and break down information using everyday, commonplace words . This approach helps those who are not familiar with my accent and also ensures effective communication with every court user.

Idioms and non-literal language

As someone who speaks English as a second language, I rarely use figurative language or idioms. This isn’t because I don’t understand their meanings, but rather because idioms can vary significantly from one country to another. This aspect of my language background has proved to be very helpful when working with court users, many of whom struggle with non-literal language. For me, simplifying language or avoiding idiomatic expressions comes naturally, making communication smoother and more accessible for those I assist.

My ability to convey information in straightforward terms has been an asset in the courtroom. It ensures that the court users I support are better able to comprehend the proceedings and can actively participate in their legal matters. It’s a reminder that clarity and simplicity can transcend language complexities and can make it easier for others to understand and connect with the message being conveyed. In other words, less is more when it comes to effective communication.

Overcoming the fear of mistakes

Being fluent in English doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes when speaking or writing. Conversations in formal settings can be nerve-wracking for anyone, and adding the complexity of speaking in English as a second language only heightens the stress. However, my experience at Communicourt, along with the extensive training program, has significantly reduced my worries by helping me to feel more prepared when going to court and assisting court users.

As intermediaries, we are held to high standards in terms of our English language proficiency, but I’ve learned that it’s okay to make grammar mistakes from time to time. What truly matters is our understanding of the subject matter, our understanding of each court user, and our ability to effectively convey information. I’ve learnt that it’s also okay to ask for help when you need it. Openly acknowledging when we find something challenging and actively seeking assistance can set a powerful example for those we assist. By demonstrating our own willingness to seek support, we can inspire court users to overcome their hesitations and reach out for help when they need it most.

Additionally, I was nervous about making grammar mistakes when writing reports which are essential for my role. However, I’ve come to realise that writing a grammatically flawless report is an unattainable goal (even in Greek I would have struggled to do that!). What’s more important is the content of the report and ensuring that important information is accurately documented. With that said, I’m enduringly grateful to my colleagues for their proofreading (all Communicourt reports are quality checked by our colleagues).

What I’ve learned

My journey as an intermediary at Communicourt has been a transformative experience. Embracing the challenges posed by language, accents, idioms, and the fear of making mistakes has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. I’ve learned that effective communication goes beyond perfection in language; it’s about understanding, empathy, and connecting with others.

In a few words, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, remember that your unique language characteristics can be an asset. Your linguistic journey is not an obstacle, in your career, nor in life. Embrace the challenges and use them to progress toward personal and professional growth. Language is a bridge (yes, I just used a non-literal expression in English!), and the journey across it is a beautiful one, no matter where you start.


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Doughnut with a bite taken out of it. Text on top reads: Vulnerable accused conference: a digested read

Bite-sized ‘take homes’ from the Vulnerable Accused Conference

Doughnut with a bite taken out of it. Text on top reads: Vulnerable accused conference: a digested read

This month, members of the Communicourt team attended the Vulnerable Accused Conference at the University of Birmingham, attended by academics from a range of backgrounds (including law, criminology and speech and language therapy). Over the two-day event, speakers presented their research on a range of topics relevant to the intermediary role and vulnerabie defendants. ‘Intermediaries’ were a real topic of interest at the conference, with calls from academics for intermediary support at many more stages of proceedings, including at the police interview stage and in parole hearings.

We’ve digested some of our favourite ‘take homes’ below. If you’d like to explore any of the research below in more detail, extended abstracts will be published on a rolling basis on the Defending Vulnerability blog (which is great source for research in this area).  You can also check out the work of many of the speakers via their Twitter feeds (linked in each talk title below).

Below you’ll find digested read versions of:


Keynote speech from Dr Penny Cooper

To open the conference, Dr Penny Cooper delivered a keynote speech exploring defendant vulnerability in the Criminal Justice System and sharing the progress made, lessons learned and future endeavours.

Dr Cooper commented that vulnerability goes far beyond a formal diagnosis, and beyond speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). She noted, “There are vulnerable moments as well as vulnerable people”, which can impact any court user who is attending an unfamiliar, intimidating court setting where processes are not clear, customs are alien, emotions are heightened and language is complex.

This view informed her call for universal reform of the criminal justice process, which included the implementation of Universal Ground Rules which should apply in all cases, not only those in which the defendant or witnesses are identified as vulnerable. These Universal Ground Rules, Cooper posited, should include a shift to succinct, plain and simple language (avoiding Legalese), which would benefit all lay parties, irrespective of their communication skills.

She also highlighted many of the barriers to effective participation faced by defendants in general (and specifically those with SLCN), for example the layout of the typical English courtroom, “I’ve seen many a defendant struggle to hear in [the dock in] an English courtroom. They disengage. Why is this setup tolerated in this day and age?”, and the use of inquisitorial cross-examination in which witnesses are “told rather than asked about their evidence”. Cooper noted, “Anyone who thinks this is the best way to get to the truth is very much mistaken”. She additionally touched upon the very high likelihood that defendants (and especially those with SLCN) will agree they understand when they do not, and will not indicate when they have not understood.

Ground Rules, screening & professional attitudes

Discussing Ground Rules Hearings (GRH), Cooper cited a judge who remarked, “A GRH, well-timed, with the judge and advocates present, makes the case go smoothly”. Cooper went on to add, “There are two kinds [of GRH], one where the judge just skips through the recommendations and the other when there’s a genuine discussion about the witness and the recommendations”. She added, “Even where there’s no intermediary, Ground Rules for the questioning ought to be set. Legal practitioners do have the training and toolkits to fall back on, but it’s no substitute for the advice of a trained intermediary”.

Cooper highlighted the importance of improved screening for SLCN and vulnerability in the Criminal Justice System, at the earliest possible stage (ideally the custody stage). Currently, no such screening tool is used consistently across English and Welsh custody suites. Cooper explained that the courts are, therefore, often reliant on the defendant self-declaring a difficulty or diagnosis, or upon vulnerability being noticed by the judge or legal professionals involved in the case.

Cooper stated that “the attitude of judges and advocates is the single most important factor in changing practice” and underscored that it is vital that legal practitioners “understand that vulnerability and how it affects participation is outside their scope – this is the role of the intermediary”. 

Touching on the recent HMCTS Managed and Approved Service Provider framework for intermediaries, Cooper commented that it is “too early” to comment on its effectiveness. She explained that “growing demand for services inevitably poses challenges”, noting that one often hears “about lawyers seeking services of intermediary but unable to find one suitable for their client”. Despite current difficulties fulfilling demand, she was of the view that “there’s even more work intermediaries could be doing. If only England was like Ireland and had intermediaries for vulnerable suspects” adding that, “For all the challenges of the role, the use of intermediaries is here to stay”. 

Future endeavours

Looking to the future, Cooper felt that universal reform of the system is required, alongside lived experience-informed overhaul of the courtroom. She summarised: “What we have not yet seen is a universal shift in language in the courtroom. Universal changes must be implemented [as well as] a screening mechanism for suspects and defendants. That’s long overdue.”


Is Cross-examination of a Vulnerable Defendant with Intellectual Disability a Fair Communicative Exchange? – Joanne Morrison

A lecturer in Intellectual Disability, Morrison also works as a Registered Intermediary in Northern Ireland. Her presentation analysed the communication ‘exchange’ between a prosecution barrister and a vulnerable defendant with intellectual disability, concluding that this communication could not, in fact, be called an exchange, due to the one-way, leading, adversarial questioning process, heavily steered by counsel and governed by the many unspoken power dynamics at play in the courtroom.

Morrison highlighted that the “rules of advocacy” are to “lead and tell – don’t ask questions”, in order to control the witness. She drew attention to a range of power disparities, from small physical examples (such as advocates standing to cross-examine a seated witness), to larger, more global differences, such as the often contrasting educational and cultural backgrounds of advocate and witness.

Most importantly, she highlighted that, while a defendant with an intellectual disability is likely to be wholly unfamiliar with complex courtroom communication and customs (and likely to have communication difficulties in everyday life), advocates have trained and practiced for many years to become expert court communicators. These courtroom expertise mean that, while counsel may put a ‘question’ (or, indeed, a statement) to a defendant, this question is in fact a message to the decisions-makers in the case (judge or jury). The true purpose of this ‘non-question’ is likely to be unclear to the defendant (e.g., drawing the jury’s attention to a discrepancy in their testimony).

The talk went on to unpack a range of commonly used cross-examination question styles which lead witnesses, and can prove particularly problematic when used with defendants who have an intellectual disability, due to the increased likelihood of suggestibility and poorer communication skills. Morrison noted, however, that “It’s not [just] a matter of question style – that’s just one factor”. This final point is a very helpful and deceptively simple observation, which can get lost once we, as intermediaries (and other professionals), begin to experience the courtroom environment as ‘everyday’.


“Missing the Signs”: A Legal-Ethical Analysis of ‘Good’ Lawyering for the Neurodivergent Accused – Tom Smith

Tom Smith (Associate Professor in Law, University of West England) explored the concept of ‘good lawyering’ for the neurodivergent accused, finding that lawyers are “obligated to ensure being neurodivergent is not a disadvantage” in the Criminal Justice System. His research sets out principles for good lawyering for neurodivergent clients, including:

  • The ability to recognise neurodivergence.
  • Understanding the communication differences and difficulties a wide spectrum of neurodivergent people may have.
  • The ability to responsively adapt their practice in order to communicate effectively with their neurodivergent client.
  • Understanding the available adaptations and services which may support the effective participation of a neurodivergent defendant.
  • Understanding that the police and courts may not implement the necessary adaptations an adjustments.
  • Proactively acting to implement adjustments, when other bodies do not do so, to ensure neurodivergent clients are not disadvantaged in the CJS.

Cross-Examination Compared: The experiences of vulnerable defendant and non-defendant witnesses – Jonathan Doak, Debbie Cooper, Candida Saunders & David Wright

This talk identified a hierarchy of ‘deservingness’ when it came to the outlook of legal professionals regarding support and adaptations for witnesses during cross-examination.

MOST DESERVING
– Child Witnesses
– Vulnerable Adult Witnesses
– Vulnerable Adult Defendants
LEAST DESERVING

The study found that this hierarchy results in “clear distinctions in approach”, such as limited intermediary support for vulnerable adult defendants and limited use of Ground Rules Hearings for these individuals.

This research surveyed many legal practitioners in the criminal justice system, who contributed interesting insights on the topic, including:

  • “Defendants do not get the same treatment as complainants, regardless of their need”
  • “As a [legal] practitioner, the culture […] is really very different and very far behind the way that we treat witnesses”.

The research also explored the evolving role of the intermediary when working with a vulnerable defendant, which is moving away from an “interpreter” model to a “facilitator” model, as a secure understanding of the proceedings in their entirety is essential to ensuring a defendant’s effective participation in trial. One legal professional commented, “How [is the defendant] going to answer questions about a case where he hasn’t understood what the prosecution evidence is?”

The study posited that some of the disparities between the treatment of vulnerable non-defendant and defendant witnesses boiled down to financial concerns. It also considered approaches taken in other jurisdictions. For example, “Northern Ireland has a much better model of practice. The identification of vulnerable suspects is much better. Because it’s a small jurisdiction, the intermediaries know each other, they know judges, there’s more bottom up activity”. 

The authors commented that, in Northern Ireland, an intermediary service was more recently implemented and, when it was, “There was a real sense of, ‘fairness demands that intermediaries should be available for defendants and witnesses’”. 


An Intermediary, a Defendant with Autism and Cross-Examination: A Novel Australian Case Study – Rukiya Stein

Stein is an intermediary working in Australian courts. After assisting a defendant with autism during his evidence, she requested court transcripts and analysed the interaction, exploring when she intervened, when she did not intervene, complex question types put to the defendant and simple question types asked of him. The judge did not grant permission for Stein to review the questions in advance of the defendant’s evidence.

One of the most common complex question types put to the defendant was interrogative statements. The cross-examination also featured low-frequency vocabulary and tag questions. Stein found that her level of intervention was relatively low, but remarked, “There’s a balance you have to strike as intermediaries, you can’t intervene for every question, you can get into trouble for that”, adding that the defendant was often able to indicate when he had not correctly understood the question.


The Use of Intermediaries (Communication Specialists) at Parole Board Oral Hearings in England and WalesBrendan O’Mahony, Becky Milne, Kevin Smith

O’Mahony is a parole board member, psychologist and intermediary for both witnesses and defendants in the criminal justice system. In this presentation, he explored the need for intermediary assistance in parole hearings and parole board attitudes to both communication needs and future possible intermediary usage.

The presentation reported that 18,248 cases were referred to the parole board in one recent year, of which 7,281 went to oral hearings, resulting in hundreds of parole hearings every month. O’Mahony reflected on the high prevalence of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) within prisons, noting that, as a result, many prisoners attending parole hearings were likely to have SLCN which may impact their ability to participate effectively.

39 parole board members were surveyed as part of this research. The vast majority had attended a hearing where they felt the prisoner required communication support. However, none had attended a hearing involving an intermediary. O’Mahony explained that precise figures regarding intermediary assistance at parole hearings was difficult to find (as this was not routinely recorded), but the study was able to find evidence of intermediary usage in just 5-6 cases in total (over a number of years).


Effective Participation means Early Participation: The Case for Intermediary Assistance at the Investigative stage – John Taggart

Taggart’s ongoing project makes the case for intermediary assistance at the investigative stage (e.g., during police interviews). Hailing from Northern Ireland, where the more recently implemented intermediary scheme has included assistance in custody from the outset, Taggart suggested that, in England and Wales, “We’ve neglected police custody when we talk about participatory rights”.

The presentation highlighted the prevalence of communication difficulties in the criminal justice system, and sought to unpack the slippery issue of what ‘effective participation’ really means. While sources like SC v UK (2005) 40 EHRR 10 find that this requires a “broad understanding of the nature of the process” and “the general thrust” of what is said in court, other sources, like Owusu-Bempah (2018), conclude that it requires courts to reach the higher bar of “informed defence participation”.

Taggart also touched upon a difficult question which may arise in custody settings: When is someone vulnerable enough to need an Appropriate Adult? And then, when are they so vulnerable that they need an intermediary?


Identifying the need for and obtaining appropriate adults (case study, interviews and statistical review) – Jennifer Holmes & Harriet Pierpoint

Dr Jennifer Holmes and Professor Harriet Pierpoint spoke about their respective research and the resulting insights into the identification of vulnerability in police stations, and how appropriate adults are obtained for police interviews.

At the outset of their presentation, Pierpoint explained that the responsibility for identifying vulnerability before a police interview is dependent on the situation. In the case of a police suspect interview where the person is under arrest, it is the custody sergeant’s responsibility, whereas in a voluntary interview, it is the responsibility of the interviewing officer. In the case of suspects under the age of 18, an appropriate adult is mandatory during interviews.

As part of Holmes’ recent research, she reviewed the police suspect interviews and custody records for 27 vulnerable suspects, across 3 police forces. This was then followed by semi-structured interviews with police officers, appropriate adults and legal advisors, exploring the decision-making processes than had taken place when interacting with these vulnerable suspects.

Holmes found that, although suspects under 18 all received an AA, a third of the vulnerable suspects in her sample did not. This was despite the custody records of most of that third making reference to factors likely to render a person vulnerable, such as mental health conditions.

To offer a wider perspective, Pierpoint’s ongoing work involved reviewing statistics obtained via freedom of information requests from more than 40 UK police forces, regarding the provision of AAs and the use of pre-interview assessments to identify vulnerability. Pierpoint found that not all under 18s were receiving appropriate adults. The use of these pre-assessments in voluntary interviews varied greatly between forces, from 0% to 24% across different regions. The tools used to assess for vulnerability were also not standardised across the country, with different forces using different assessments.

Holmes’ interviews highlighted great variation in the way that AAs (appropriate adults) were obtained by the police. In one interview, a detective said, “We just stick to ones that we know, really, and we just call them up on a mobile and say ‘Oh, are you free?”, whilst another reported that a preferred AA’s directed phone number was displayed in the police station. Holmes’ highlighted the concerns this raised about the close working relationship between the detectives and the AA, and the impact on the AAs role as an independent safeguard.


If you’d like to learn more about any of the research above in more detail, extended abstracts will be published on a rolling basis on the Defending Vulnerability blog (which is great source for research going on in this area). You can also check out the work of many of the speakers via their Twitter feeds (linked in each talk title). 

Rebecca (intermediary) outside Newday Christian Youth Festival her arms are outstretched in front of a big tent and she is smiling.

Rebecca Volunteers at Newday Christian Youth Festival

Rebecca (intermediary) outside Newday Christian Youth Festival her arms are outstretched in front of a big tent and she is smiling.

A big well done to intermediary, Rebecca, for her (almost certainly exhausting!) work as a Youth Leader at Newday Christian Youth Festival. Each year, Communicourt staff can take up to two paid volunteering days to support causes they are passionate about. Here’s what she got up to…

“This summer, I had the immense privilege of serving my youth group at “Newday”, one of the largest Christian Youth Festivals in England! The (very wet and windy!) week saw over 8,000 teens come together at the Norfolk Show Ground for a week of camping, worship, and biblical teaching. As a 12-14s youth leader, I had the joy of joining our young people each day at their various meetings, hanging out in the afternoons drinking the best milkshakes, and exploring the word and their faith with them. The week brings up many issues and difficulties, but as leaders we are there to support them pastorally, safeguard our teens, and offer unconditional support. Being a leader can be tough, but seeing the growth of our amazing young people makes every difficult moment worth it!

Despite the awful weather, I had an amazing time working with our incredible young people and am so thankful for the chance to be with them, answering all kinds of questions from the everyday to the big life questions. Whilst my fellow leaders may have heard me say “I hate camping” 10,000 times a day, I am already counting down the days for next year!”


Interested in working as an intermediary? Learn more about staff benefits (including Volunteering Days) and the intermediary role here.