Volunteering in Victim Support - a worthwhile commitment
Volunteers are crucial to the work of Victim Support. We help over 1 million people affected by crime each year, and, despite the funding we get from the Home Office and sponsors, we could not do this without our 14,000 locally based volunteers.
How can I help?
Our volunteers help in the following ways:
Local Victim Support branches
Branch volunteers are based in the community and provide emotional support, information and practical help for people who have suffered crimes ranging from burglary to murder or manslaughter. Volunteers normally visit people in their homes and help by allowing them to talk through their feelings about the crime. Volunteers also give information about any practical and personal issues, and help victims find their own strategies to overcome the effects of the crime. Scheme volunteers should be available for at least two hours a week, although actual hours can be flexible and may include weekends and evenings.
Volunteers take phone calls from victims of crime, providing emotional support, information and referral to local Victim Support schemes or other agencies. Initial training in telephone skills and self-awareness is provided, followed by a core training programme. Volunteers are expected to make a commitment to one four hour shift a week, and receive ongoing support and supervision. Supportline is based at the Victim Support National Office in London.
The Witness Service
Going to court can be a stressful and bewildering experience, both for the victims of a crime and their families, and for witnesses called to give evidence. Witness Service volunteers are based in magistrates' and Crown Court buildings and offer emotional support and practical information to people going to court. This can include: offering witnesses a chance to visit the court before giving evidence; explaining court procedures; accompanying a victim or witness into the courtroom, and giving the chance to talk over the case when it has ended. Volunteers in the Witness Service need to be available during the working week and should be able to offer two full days a month.
If you have a good level of knowledge of networking, hardware and software, and the communication skills to support and train users, you may be interested in working as an IT volunteer, supporting Victim Support and Witness Service offices around the country. We are looking for proficient users of Windows and MS Office software with a working knowledge of installing, testing and maintaining networks. You will receive training and support, and will need to be available during office hours.
Other ways of helping
You can help victims of crime in other ways, such as helping with the running of our offices, or assisting with publicity, developing our web sites, fundraising and interpreting, particularly if you have skills in these areas.
Are there any age limits?
Anyone aged 18 or over can apply to become a Victim Support volunteer.
What do I have to do to become a Victim Support volunteer?
We have to carry out some basic checks to help ensure the safety of the people we work with, and our staff. Everyone who wants to volunteer to support victims and witnesses must supply references and declare any criminal convictions they may have (both spent and unspent). We will also carry out a police check. Having a criminal record does not automatically exclude someone from volunteering and the selection panel will carefully consider each case on its own merits.
What training is needed?
You do not need any existing qualifications to become a Victim Support or Witness Service volunteer. Victim Support believes that many people have within them the ability to help victims and witnesses of crime. All volunteers involved in supporting victims and witnesses are given basic training which increases their awareness of the effects of crime; develops their listening skills; and provides relevant practical information, for example police and court procedures.
Who do I contact if I would like to volunteer?
Please contact your local Area office.