Local News from Schemes and Witness Services

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FIRST ALL-WELSH CONFERENCE
WITNESS SERVICES JOIN FORCES IN COCOON PROTECTION PROJECT
SHARING EXPERIENCES SUCCESS
VICTIM SUPPORT KIRKDALE’S £128,000 BOOST
NEWCASTLE WITNESS SERVICE CELEBRATES 10th ANNIVERSARY
NORTH WEST BEATS THE FUEL CRISIS
VICTIM SUPPORT GREAT YARMOUTH GOES TO THE DOGS
VICTIM SUPPORT HELPING TO BUILD A BETTER BRISTOL

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FIRST ALL-WELSH CONFERENCE

More money from central Government funds should be spent in support of victims of crime.

That was the message from National Council Chair and Chair of Victim Support Powys, Jeremy Corbett, to the keynote speaker, Home Office Minister Lord Bassam, at Victim Support’s first All Wales Conference in September.

Jeremy Corbett told delegates that Victim Support was the ‘poor relation’ in the criminal justice sector. “In England and Wales Victim Support receives grant expenditure of under £20million out of a criminal justice budget of £12,500 million; out of every pound of expenditure we receive just 0.16 pence – we don’t even get the loose change of Government funds,” he said.

More than 150 delegates attended the conference. Held at the University of Aberystwyth and funded with the help of the Millennium Festival Fund for Wales, the conference was opened by Lord Elystan Morgan, former MP for Cardigan and current life peer and judge. Other speakers included Victim Support’s Chief Executive, Dame Helen Reeves, and Professor Jonathan Shepherd of Cardiff University, a Victim Support Trustee.

Call to cut drink related crime.

VS trustee, Professor Jonathan Shepherd of Cardiff University Hospital used his conference address to call for greater recognition of the links between alcohol and crime.

Speaking about his medical work with assault victims, particularly those who need treatment for facial injuries following pub and club-related incidents, Professor Shepherd called for a British Standard to ensure all drinking glasses are made of toughened glass, and for drinks’ manufacturers to use bottles made of plastic.

“Beer glasses are a major cause of facial injury, but if glass is toughened it breaks up differently and is less likely to cause serious injuries. A change in manufacturing could make a real difference to victims’ lives,” he said.

The victim’s perspective.

The final conference session presented the victim’s perspective of crime.

Three speakers, assisted by the volunteers who had supported them, spoke about the effects that rape, murder and assault had had on their lives.

A victim of rape spoke about her feelings of isolation after the crime. “Nobody knew what to say to me. Life just wasn’t the same, for me or for my family and friends,” she said.

A mother whose son and his girlfriend were victims of a double murder spoke about how she felt let down by a system which seemed to treat her family as second class citizens: “It felt like the system had stripped me of all my dignity,” she said.

A man who was assaulted in a shop spoke about his long road to recovery following the attack. “I owe everything I am now to Victim Support, because if they hadn’t been there for me when I needed them, I don’t know where I’d be today,” he said.

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WITNESS SERVICES JOIN FORCES IN COCOON PROTECTION PROJECT

Victim Support and the Crown Court Witness Service in Leicester are working with other criminal justice groups and community organisations on an initiative to safeguard witnesses of crime from intimidation and anti-social behaviour.

The Leicester Witness Cocoon project was launched following the success of a similar scheme on the city’s Eyres Monsell estate. Liz Cox, Co-ordinator of Victim Support Leicester, and Jo Sakne, Co-ordinator of Leicester Crown Court Witness Service, are both members of the Witness Cocoon Project management committee, and believe the project is undertaking valuable work.

“The Cocoon project members are all volunteers from the communities on the estates, and they are able to build up a close relationship with people,” said Liz Cox. “The role of Witness Cocoon is to be able to support people in the process of actually going forward and giving evidence.”

Jo Sakne said “The project makes sure that people get the support they need in their own community. Once they get to court, the project hands over to the Witness Service.”

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SHARING EXPERIENCES SUCCESS

A ‘sharing experiences’ day organised by Victim Support West Kent attracted 70 delegates from Victim Support Schemes and other agencies across the South East.

The event at Tunbridge Wells – the second staged by the Scheme – was organised by West Kent Co-ordinator Chris Leask, who was ‘delighted’ by the response.

“Although this is only the second one we’ve done, the numbers have increased from just over 40 last year to 70 this year, and it was a great day,” said Chris.

Delegates came from as far afield as Essex and Hertfordshire as well as London, Sussex and Kent for the day, during which they were able to attend two workshops.

A total of seven workshops were held, covering homophobic crime, domestic violence, intervention, bereavement, non-female domestic violence, male rape, rehabilitation of prisoners and human rights.

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VICTIM SUPPORT KIRKDALE’S £128,000 BOOST

Four new initiatives are to be launched by Victim Support Kirkdale in Liverpool after a £128,000 award by the National Lotteries Charity Board.

The funds, which will be used over the next three years, will go towards employing a Sub Projects Manager and an administration officer to develop the four specific projects identified by the Scheme.

These will be supporting homeless victims of crime, supporting victims of homophobic crime, a school anti-bullying project and working with the community to develop a safer community. As part of the support for homeless victims of crime initiative, VS Kirkdale gave 30 personal attack alarms to Big Issue Liverpool for use by its vendors who have been victims of crime.

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NEWCASTLE WITNESS SERVICE CELEBRATES 10th ANNIVERSARY

More than 30 Witness Service volunteers, past and present, switched roles at Newcastle Crown Court when they attended a reception to mark the 10th anniversary of the service, and the launch of an information video for prospective witnesses.

The volunteers were able to sip wine and watch the first official showing of the video on the concourse overlooking the historic quayside of the River Tyne.

Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Alan Beith, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Lady Maddock, President of the Party, were guests of honour at the event, which launched the 17-minute Called to witness video, intended to prepare witnesses to give evidence.

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NORTH WEST BEATS THE FUEL CRISIS

Sixty delegates beat the fuel crisis to attend the North West Regional Staff Conference at the Whitbread Brewery at Salmesbury, Preston – the first in the round of regional conferences.

The conference was opened by David Dowsett, of the CICA, who talked about the way forward for the CICA, while Field Team Manager Alison Wedge outlined the strategic thinking for NAVSS (the National Association of Victims Support Schemes); the afternoon session was devoted to workshops.

North West regional representative Mark Nesbitt, who organised the conference, said all delegates had learned a ‘huge amount’ from each workshop. “Everybody had a good time, and Preston turned out to be a brilliant venue,” he added.

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VICTIM SUPPORT GREAT YARMOUTH GOES TO THE DOGS

Victim Support Yarmouth has gone to the dogs - and raised more than £1,000 in the process.

The Scheme held its annual Charity Greyhound Racing Evening at the town’s stadium with a full race-card sponsored by local businesses. Co-ordinator Jenny Newman was delighted with the response: “Everybody enjoyed the evening, and those involved in the organising worked very hard.

“We raised more than £1,400 on the evening, which was the best result over the six years or so that we have held the event.”

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VICTIM SUPPORT HELPING TO BUILD A BETTER BRISTOL

Victim Support Bristol has received a special award from the Building a Better Bristol (BaBB) organisation in recognition of its outstanding efforts to improve the quality of life in the city.

The award is part of a project administered by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, and acknowledges the volume and quality of work undertaken by the Bristol Scheme, which was launched 26 years ago.

The Scheme now receives more than 14,000 referrals each year from Avon and Somerset Police. During 1999/2000, Victim Support Bristol also succeeded in achieving CICA awards for 98 clients totalling more than £280,000; it currently has 305 clients claiming CICA awards, and the number is continuing to rise every month.

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