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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Maggie Rae, 20 September 1949 – 7 November 2023. Photo: Newton Kearns 

David Ellis, former Chair of Family Rights Group, remembers then fellow trustee, Maggie Rae

I first met Maggie in the late sixties through my friend Henry Hodge. 

Maggie was an amazing force of nature and remained so until her death on a south Atlantic holiday. Shockingly, two months earlier her husband Lord Alan Howarth had died when they were on a cruise in the Arctic. 

Maggie was an extremely important member of Family Rights Group contributing much to the formation of our ideals and practice. The committee meetings were usually great fun as the members were an impressive group of lawyers , social workers and academics who had a burning desire to improve the lot of families who had had their children removed from them by the Courts and Social Services. 

Maggie, initially a barrister, later a solicitor in family law, contributed an enormous amount to Family Rights Group in its early days in the 1970s. She was particularly helpful in supporting us to obtain grants from the then Dept of Health and interested charitable foundations who provided us with necessary funds to employ our first staff member, Jo Tunnard, in 1979. 

I remember Maggie and Henry assisting me, as the then Chair of Family Rights Group on the appointment panel and what good appointments we made! The organisation developed offering outstanding support to families in need. We had a great time together and were lucky to be around at a time (1970s) of positivity and hope that things could improve, which they did. Direct work with families, training for social workers, lawyers and others became the basis for the high quality organisation we see today . 

Maggie always kept in touch and continued to be an outstanding family lawyer. 

She is greatly missed by her colleagues, friends, family and clients. 

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