Vic­tim Sup­port seeks vol­un­teer sup­port­ers

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘Peo­ple need to know there is some­one in their cor­ner.’’

Vic­tim Sup­port’s He­len McLeane wants to raise the pro­file of the Crown-sup­ported agency that op­er­ates out of the com­mu­nity ser­vices wing of the Palmer­ston North po­lice sta­tion.

For too many, the first en­counter they have with Vic­tim Sup­port is af­ter a bur­glary, when the agency gets in touch ask­ing if there’s any­thing they can do to help.

Re­ferred by po­lice, the in­de­pen­dent in­cor­po­rated so­ci­ety of­fers an ex­ten­sive free re­sponse avail­able to any­one fac­ing grief and trauma as a re­sult of se­ri­ous crime, or an ac­ci­dent.

‘‘Many peo­ple don’t re­alise who we are or what we are about un­til they need to use what we pro­vide.’’

McLeane over­sees an area that co­in­cides with the po­lice district and stretches from Otaki across to Dan­nevirke with the help of 17 highly trained vol­un­teer sup­port work­ers.

‘‘We cover a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions. Sui­cide be­reave­ment is part of our ba­sic train­ing.

‘‘We pro­vide court sup­port for peo­ple in sev­eral dif­fer­ent ways. We can sit in court be­hind peo­ple to pro­vide sup­port, or be in a wit­ness room.

‘‘We of­fer re­fer­ral to other sup­port ser­vices such as Women’s Refuge and Rape Cri­sis, and to ap­proved coun­sel­lors. It’s the high end of vol­un­tary work.’’

The sup­port work­ers are not only avail­able im­me­di­ately af­ter any in­ci­dent, but pro­vide longterm as­sis­tance, up to two years if nec­es­sary.

‘‘Coroners reports can take two years to come out. That brings it all back for the peo­ple af­fected.’’

The vol­un­teers are the heart of the ser­vice putting in around 10 hours a week.

‘‘They are ros­tered four hours a week, but have to pre­pare case notes and fol­low up phone calls. We strug­gle a bit at week­ends.’’

‘‘We have 17 peo­ple from all age groups and gen­ders and back­grounds who have dealt with some har­row­ing stuff, and han­dled the cir­cum­stances well. It may be a vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tion but we pro­vide a pro­fes­sional level of ser­vice.’’

McLeane is look­ing for vol­un­teers who have peo­ple and com­puter skills.

‘‘It’s quite an in­ter­view process so they know ex­actly what they’re get­ting in to.’’

Any­one in­ter­ested can find out more on the Vic­tim Sup­port web­page or 0800 86 5868

MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

He­len McLeane, Vic­tim Sup­port’s ser­vice co-or­di­na­tor is look­ing for suit­able vol­un­teers.

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