Many courts have a duty solicitor at the court who can talk to unrepresented parties and offer some assistance, but they cannot represent you and the assistance they can offer is limited.
If you were the sole parent and gaurdian the court should be particularly reluctant to keep the child away from you, but the fact you were not able to obtain a recovery order suggests either the case against you is compelling or that you somehow failed to explain your situation to the court adequately, or provide relevant evidence to support your position. Either way I strongly urge you to get representation.
If this is your first occasion before the court since your application it is likely just a preliminary hearing to ascertain where the parties are at. You would need to inform the court that you are waiting on the outcome of an application for legal aid, but in the meantime you could consider writing a statement as to your role in caring for your child and the history of that, and why the child should be returned to your custody/care or that at the very least you should be granted regular access on an interim basis (i.e. that you should get custody/access immediately until such time as the court is ready to have a final hearing).
Without a detailed understanding of the events that led to the court refusing to grant the custody order, I cannot comment on your prospects of obtaining access/custody, but it cannot hurt you to ask at this point, and it may assist the court in understanding your situation better.
I trust the above assists.
Good luck and please rate my answer.