1 March 2024

by Anita Sharma

Growing up, my family encountered frequent racist abuse. My brothers were stopped and searched by the police on a regular basis. When it came to choosing a career path, I knew it had to involve working with and for marginalised people. After graduating, I worked for Coventry Law Centre and in 2001, I joined Refugee and Migrant Justice representing asylum seekers, until it closed in 2010.  

Earlier that year my brother died. He had sunk into depression and alcohol dependency following the sudden death of our mother and, a few years later, our father  

The lack of services available to help him with his mental ill health and addiction shocked us. It is disheartening that we continue to see a lack of these services today. There was an inquest into his death and that is when I became aware of a coroner’s inquest. I felt completely overwhelmed. I was directed to INQUEST’s Help & Advice service by an INQUEST Lawyer Group member and found all the information I needed at a time of grief and confusion. A few months later in October 2010, I joined the organisation as a caseworker 

Today, I am the Head of Casework here at INQUEST. For over ten years, I have worked for bereaved families. Each day brings its own rewards and challenges. The casework team could be assisting bereaved families through inquests and other investigations; providing training to lawyers; raising concerns with investigatory bodies and the coroner's service; highlighting the issue of deaths in custody in the press or organising family events. 

Public perception appears to be that deaths in state custody in the UK are relatively rare and small in numbers. However, the reality is the opposite. Bereaved families are said to be at the heart of the processes, yet they are so often met with defensiveness, denial, and delay instead of openness and honesty 

Organisations like INQUEST should not have to exist. Yet 40 years on we are needed more than ever 

Every day, we campaign alongside families to expose the true circumstances of these deaths, hold those responsible to account, and enact meaningful change to prevent future deaths. None of this would have been possible without the support of people like you, THANK YOU. 

We are completely independent of government and entirely reliant on grants and donations from people like you to continue our vital work.  Become a regular donor today and support us and bereaved families in the fight for truth, justice and accountability.