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For information about seeking legal support following a road crash, see Brake’s legal support webpage
Brake's helpline is a quality accredited, Freephone, confidential support service, providing information and advocacy, emotional support and a listening ear.
To speak to our friendly, experienced and professionally trained helpline team, call 0808 8000 401, or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The helpline is open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
The helpline provides support for UK residents in the following circumstances:
- if you have been bereaved or seriously injured in a crash
- if you are caring for someone bereaved or seriously injured in a crash
- if you are a professional, such as a police officer, teacher or health worker, wanting advice about how to help people affected by a crash
We will provide support whether the crash was recent or a long time ago, and whether it occurred in this country or abroad.
The Brake support team understands that every road crash is different, every caller is an individual and each set of circumstances is uniquely painful, and we tailor our support according to your needs. Our over-riding aim is to help you to feel able to cope, emotionally and practically, in the aftermath of the crash and as you adjust to your new reality. We can stay in touch with you for as long as our support continues to be helpful.
Our helpline officers are trained and experienced support professionals. We can help in different ways, according to your situation, tailoring our support to meet your needs.
1. We offer emotional support
Our caring support staff will listen to your feelings, and enable you to freely express the emotions you are experiencing, if this is helpful to you. We can also provide reassurance that your feelings are normal in the awful circumstances, and direct you towards further sources of specialist or face-to-face support if this would be helpful:
- Support from someone who’s ‘been there’:
Some people find it helpful to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience. Our 'I've been there' service provides an opportunity for you to talk over the phone to a volunteer who has been affected by a crash in a similar way and has found a way forward with their life.
- Help with symptoms of trauma:
It may be that the initial shock and trauma of the crash remains with you and makes getting on with normal life very difficult. If you are suffering in this way, it is important to have an assessment with an expert and seek appropriate treatment, which is often a course of talk-based therapy. Our helpline officers can help you understand what you are going through and help you to access assessment and treatment through the NHS and elsewhere.
- Finding the right face-to-face or specialist support for you and your family:
We offer a personalised support-sourcing service for callers and their families, and our helpline team are experts in finding suitable local or specialist support, where this exists. This may be a locally-based support worker who can visit you at home or in hospital in the early weeks; a specialist support service for victims suffering a particular injury; online support or peer forums for bereaved young people; face-to-face counselling, bereavement support or other talking therapy; local support groups; carer support; befriending services; or any number of different types of help. Please be aware that this is a sourcing (researching) service, and specific types of support may not exist in all areas.
As well as contacting our helpline for emotional support, you can also read our book Coping with Grief online, or call the helpline for a free copy.
2. We provide practical help
Our helpline officers are trained in understanding and assisting with the practical issues that can affect families following a crash. We can provide information, guidance and advocacy to help you to understand and manage these issues in the best way for you and your family:
- Information and guidance on a range of issues
The aftermath of a road crash can leave you coping with stressful new experiences, such as navigating the criminal justice system, becoming a carer or facing financial hardship. We can help you to understand criminal justice procedures and other practical matters, further explain any of the information provided in our support guides, talk through any problems you are facing, provide friendly and professional guidance, and signpost you towards specialist sources of additional help and information. Sometimes just discussing these issues with someone experienced in supporting those affected by a road crash can help you to make sense of the problems you are facing and to make decisions about how to move forward.
- Advocacy and practical assistance when it all feels too much
Sometimes it can feel just too difficult to approach officials or research sources of help when your world has been turned upside down by a road crash. You may be finding it hard to get answers, or just lacking the energy to make your voice heard due to bereavement or injury. Our helpline officers can assist by liaising with officials on your behalf, whether you are wanting answers from medical staff or a coroner; struggling to tell the bank what has happened; or need to find childcare so that you can attend a trial, we can try to help.
- Contact with a specialist lawyer
Families experiencing bereavement and injury following a road crash can find it helpful to seek legal support for a number of different reasons. It may be that you need help finding a will or dealing with probate issues, or there may be financial concerns, for example if someone who contributed to the household income has died or if you are unable to work due to injury or new responsibilities as a carer. There can also be many costs involved in the long-term care and rehabilitation of victims who have suffered a serious injury. Our helpline officers can provide information about seeking legal support and advice, and are able to discuss the best way to source an expert, specialist solicitor, who can talk to you, without obligation, about whether you might be able to claim for damages following a crash. Reputable, specialist solicitors will be able to advise you on whether this is possible or not for your case during a free, initial consultation. Our webpage on Finding appropriate legal support and advice provides further information.
You can read our support service standards, including for our helpline. You can also read comments about our work, and provide feedback. If you wish to make a complaint please read our complaints policy.
The helpline's delivery in England and Wales is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Justice; kind support from the following specialist road crash personal injury solicitors: Slater and Gordon Solicitors, Lyons Davidson Solicitors and Irwin Mitchell Solicitors; and donations from the public and from the following PCC offices:
The helpline's delivery in Scotland is funded by Digby Brown Solicitors. The helpline's delivery in Northern Ireland is funded by public and corporate donations to Brake. A grant from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office enables us to support people in the UK who have been affected by road death abroad.
If you want to help Brake’s important work
See our fundraising ideas or donate online. You can also read about two of the many bereaved families who have generously helped Brake by reading Katie's story and Jamie's story.