Tag: helpline

Merrick helpline staying open during cost of living crisis

Since early in the pandemic, Merrick has run a free helpline offering legal advice on divorce, domestic abuse, separation, children and other relationship issues.

While, thankfully, many aspects of daily life now look a lot more normal, the pressure on families has unfortunately not gone away.

The threat of Covid-19 may have lessened. However, the current cost of living crisis is another major concern that is impacting families across the UK.

Few are immune from the stress that soaring inflation, energy and food prices are causing. Those pressures can impact on relationships as well, placing a further strain on couples.

That’s why we’ve decided to keep our helpline open. We want to ensure we’re able to offer a helping hand to those that need it. We’re available on freephone 0800 285 1413 seven days a week, 8am to 8pm.

As well as offering initial legal advice, we can often signpost to other ways of getting support.

We’ve also put together this list of just some of the places you can get help online with financial issues.

Online help

Debt charity Step Change has useful advice on its web pages and also handy links to the range of government support that has been made available. Through the same page, visitors can access Step Change’s free debt advice either through online tools or by talking to an advisor.


If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off. The Citizens Advice site has a list of energy suppliers offering grants to their customers:


One of the most passionate advocates for the Government to do more to help out families struggling to meet their rising costs, is TV Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis.

As you might expect, his website includes a myriad of good advice from how to check whether you’re actually receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled to saving money by using your microwave rather than your oven.

Tried everything on his list? Then sign up for his weekly email which delivers fresh advice on ways to save.


Single parents 

Single parent charity Gingerbread points out that while coupled parents can share the financial burden of parenting, single parents do not have the same flexibility.

As a result, many single parents are taking on multiple jobs to make ends meet. Evidence shows that, due to childcare costs, working more hours often actually increases the risk of falling into problem debt.

Gingerbread has lots of user-friendly advice on all sorts of issues affecting single parents. This includes stretching the family budget and ensuring you are getting the necessary support.


Financial strain leaves many feeling anxious and fearful – and that can put pressure on relationships.

We often tiptoe around conversations to do with money and what support people can seek when they need it. Relate, the relationship people, have some suggestions on how to open up what may be a difficult conversation with family or friends about your finances.

Relate’s advice is to ‘feel proud of yourself for even thinking about having a conversation with others in your life. It’s a big step’.



→ We previously published this list of helplines.




As we head towards the Christmas and New Year break we want to remind anyone who needs it that our free helpline remains open.

With Covid infection levels once again on the rise and many people concerned about limiting personal contact with others, our helpline is available for those who need legal advice on divorce, separation, children and other relationship issues, including domestic abuse.

The helpline – 0800 285 1413 –  is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm to give you access to the expertise and support of our team.

We’ve been bowled over by the response to the free helpline we launched during lockdown.
So, we’ve invited five different specialists to join us on the phones next week to answer your queries.
Got an employment law problem? Need some advice with a nagging health issue? We’ve got expert advice on all this and more plus, of course, invaluable family law support
The full line up of experts for the week commencing July 13th is below.
The helpline – 0800 285 1413 – is available seven days a week from 8am to 8pm to provide expertise and support.
Many thanks to all the professionals who have freely given their time to help support this initiative. If you want to know more about them we’ll be posting links and articles during the week on our social media accounts.
Family relationships are under pressure like never before – and we still want to do all we can to help. So alongside our guest experts, Merrick will be available to offer confidential legal advice on divorce, separation, children and other relationship issues, including domestic abuse.

Soap’s coercive control storyline unfortunately realistic

Coronation Street fans are witnessing one of the soap’s most disturbing storylines heading to a violent climax.

Viewers have been left horrified by character Geoff Metcalfe’s increasingly controlling behaviour of wife Yasmeen. The programme’s hard-hitting coercive control storyline peaks this week when Geoff attacks Yasmeen with a knife after starving her and forcing her to wear a prostitute’s clothes.

Unfortunately, the domestic abuse is realistic. The situations portrayed will be frighteningly familiar to many women and men who have suffered in similar toxic relationships.

Coronation Street producers worked with charities Women’s Aid and Independent Choices Greater Manchester on the best ways to portray the abuse.

Abuse doesn’t have to be physical

Explaining how the storyline would unfold, producer Iain Macleod said: “It’s common for people to think abusive behaviour has to be physical. But you can damage someone profoundly without laying a finger on them.

“Many thousands of people feel trapped in relationships with someone who claims to love them but who is actually taking them apart piece by piece, isolating them from friends and family and locking them in an invisible prison of fear and insecurity.”

Yasmeen has been increasingly under her manipulative partner’s control for more than a year.

She was forced to throw away all her clothes and spend endless hours cleaning the house. Since then, the bullying has ramped up. Viewers have seen Geoff abusing his wife, controlling what she eats, the money she spends and who she sees.

Teresa Parker, of Women’s Aid, said: “Coercive control underpins almost all abusive relationships. Geoff has established himself at the centre of Yasmeen’s life, and manipulated her in so many ways, controlling what she can and can’t do.

“She is doubting her own judgement and memories. Gradually we are seeing the long-term effects of living with an abusive partner, as she sees less of her family and friends and becomes increasingly isolated.”

Coercive control became a crime in 2015 and offenders can face up to five years in prison. Signs of coercive control include:

  • Isolating a partner from family and friends
  • Monitoring daily life and how time is spent
  • Controlling how money is spent
  • Controlling behaviour, dress and habits
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising comments or actions
  • Making threats or intimidating remarks

Clare’s Law

The Coronation Street team has been keen to show some of the tools available for the abused to fight back.

Prompted by concerned family, Yasmeen asked the police for information about Geoff’s criminal past via Clare’s Law.

Under this scheme anyone can ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. Clare’s Law – or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend who had a history of violence against women.


The coercive control storyline comes to a head as the UK remains on lockdown meaning many real-life sufferers are effectively trapped with violent or controlling partners.

Free helpines

According to charity Refuge, National Domestic Abuse Helpline calls and online requests for help were 49% higher than normal after three weeks of lockdown.

Staying home is essential to prevent coronavirus spreading, said MP Yvette Cooper. However, “for some people home isn’t safe” and “urgent action” was needed to protect them.

The Government had already stressed that lockdown restrictions on travel did not include those who needed to make themselves safe from domestic abuse. And it was announced this week that any woman who needs to seek refuge can do so for free on any UK train. The cost of the ticket will be covered by the relevant rail operator.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be contacted free, and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.

Merrick has also launched a free phoneline – 0800 285 1413 – offering confidential legal advice on domestic abuse, divorce, separation, children and other relationship issues.
Our team is on hand seven days a week from 8am to 8pm to provide expertise and support. If it is difficult to call because of the lockdown you can send us a private message via social media or email info@merrick-solicitors.com.

The female stars of Coronation Street recorded a video highlighting the help available to domestic abuse victims during the lockdown.

The video encourages those at risk to keep a mobile phone with them at all times. Anyone needing help, but fearful an abuser may hear them calling, can dial 999 and press 55. This will let police know they need assistance.