A groundbreaking new campaign bringing together Victim Support with four of the UK's leading children's charities to improve support for children facing court appearances was launched at Victim Support's child witness conference in London.
The charities are calling on the criminal justice system to ensure child witnesses are referred on at the earliest opportunity, and are asking the Government to increase its support to help Victim Support deliver this vital, but as yet unfunded, work.
A major break-through has been made in ensuring help and support is available to those who become victims of crime while in a foreign country following the publication of the European framework document on victims’ rights
The document provides a series of standards for victims of crime, similar to the
charter which apply throughout Europe, and will have particular impact for those travelling abroad from the UK.
Dame Helen Reeves, Chief Executive of Victim Support who was elected Chair of the Forum earlier this year, said: "Up until now, the European Union has had no policy for victims of crime at all, so this does represent a major break-through, particularly for British travellers who have in the past had a pretty rough deal in some European countries."
A film made by Crimewatch UK presenter Nick Ross which promotes the work of Victim Support is to be made available to Schemes and Witness Services after Area Managers backed the celebrity endorsement.
The two-minute film, recorded on the set of Crimewatch, calls on businesses and corporate organisations to 'send out a strong signal' to both their staff and the wider community by forming a partnership with VS to help deliver essential services to victims of crime.
It is being edited for use by Schemes and Witness Services, and will be available in two formats, CD-ROM and VHS videotape, priced from £7-£10 depending on demand.
A sell-out crowd learned about the work of Victim Support following a presentation by Schemes in Leeds at the Leeds United - Chelsea Premier League match.
VS North East Leeds Co-ordinator Marie Hearnshaw said: "We were given a slot in the programme, and the stadium, bars, banqueting suite, corporate boxes and toilets were blitzed with Victim Support posters and leaflets, while the pitch-side interview was shown on the big screens and in all the bars. What a day - and Leeds won 2-0!"
The Schemes are now hoping to repeat the event during Victim Support Week next year.
Tackling diversity with maturity and confidence
Victim Support's 'confidence and maturity' is enabling us to successfully tackle the many difficult issues surrounding the diversity of the organisation and the accessibility of services to victims.
That was the overriding message at the National Conference 2001, which concentrated on the theme of Opening the Doors.
The two-day conference at Warwick University featured presentations from a range of organisations including the Stonewall Lobby Group, Scope, the Muslim Women's Helpline and VOICE UK, which represents people with learning disabilities.
Addressing delegates at the opening plenary session, Robert Latham, Chair of the National Board of Trustees, said that recognising every victim of crime as an individual person and providing services to meet their needs, as well as drawing from the resources of the community as a whole during the recruitment process, were central to the theme of Opening the Doors.
"Our ability to discuss these issues and meet these challenges reflects the confidence and maturity of Victim Support on diversity issues," said Mr Latham. "I've seen the faces of tiredness at National Office and at local Schemes. There are bound to be tensions, but I've always believed that tension can be constructive when it is based on good communications."
Joined up approach to tackle joined up prejudice
A homophobic culture in schools and throughout the education system is leaving gay and lesbian youngsters without the necessary protection or support to prevent verbal and physical assaults.
Angela Mason, Executive Director of the Stonewall Lobby Group, told delegates that research by Stonewall among lesbian and gay people under the age of 18 had revealed that 48 per cent had been the victim of a violent physical attack, and that 90 per cent had experienced homophobic abuse; for more than 50 per cent of the respondents, such attacks had taken place in school.
Further research carried out by MORI had also revealed that individuals who exhibited prejudice against the gay and lesbian community were also more likely to be prejudiced against other minority groups, including ethnic minorities and those with disabilities.
"It shows that prejudice is a joined up problem; what we are calling for is a joined up approach to tackle this joined up problem," said Ms Mason.
The victim's story
One of the most thought-provoking sessions of the conference saw people with learning disabilities perform a role-playing session, which highlighted the more extreme examples of how difficult it can be for them to access services in all walks of life.
Christiana Horrocks, Director of Voice UK, an organisation which represents people with learning disabilities, highlighted instances where people with learning disabilities have become victims of crime, including serious sexual assault, but their complaints have been ignored by other agencies and authorities who have not been able to see past their disability.
She introduced Viv Fox of CHANGE, a group for people with learning disabilities, which uses role-playing and drama to underline the prejudice they may encounter in everyday life.
Along with two members of the group Viv went through an 'extreme caricature' of some of the worst examples of prejudice and ignorance which a person with learning disability may experience, using the scenario of a victim phoning Victim Support for information.
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This page was last revised:06/08/01
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