Victim Support began celebrating 40 years of helping the victims of crime on New Year’s Day.
The occasion was marked with a feature which ran across the BBC, including BBC Breakfast and the News Channel. More than half a million people also heard about the anniversary through social media channels.
From humble beginnings as a local community project, Victim Support has grown into the world’s biggest charity for victims and witnesses. It now contacts more than one million victims of crime every year and helps more than 200,000 people giving evidence in court.
New analysis of Victim Support’s records shows an estimated 55,000 people have volunteered for the charity over the years, which has helped or contacted at least 30 million victims of crime.
Tributes to the organisation
Leading figures from the criminal justice system have paid tribute to the immense contribution made by Victim Support’s staff and volunteers over the last four decades.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: “We know that participation in the criminal justice system can be daunting for both victims and witnesses. Victim Support provides an essential service, not only by supporting victims of crime and helping witnesses give evidence in court through its volunteer-led Witness Service, but also in ensuring their voices are heard across the system.”
Saunders continued: “As DPP, I am committed to making victims’ experiences easier and better and the work of Victim Support is invaluable to the CPS’ efforts to achieve this. I am grateful to Victim Support for its role in representing the views of victims and witnesses, and we will continue to work closely with the organisation to ensure the CPS continues to improve the service we provide to those unfortunate enough to find themselves victims of crime.”
Sir Hugh Orde – President of the Association of Chief Police Officers – said: “Victim Support has made a vital and often unsung difference to the lives of so many victims and witnesses of crime over the past 40 years. The hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers, who give up their time for free, has helped thousands to negotiate what can be an extremely traumatic and confusing process.”
ACPO’s leader continued: “Third sector partners like Victim Support make an invaluable contribution in improving the experiences of victims and witnesses and driving up their confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole. The police service will continue to work closely with Victim Support to ensure that victims and witnesses of crime receive the best possible help and support.”
Lifeline for more than one million victims
Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester and chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “Victim Support provides a lifeline to more than a million victims each year. Without volunteers willing to give up their own time to offer help and support to people at what is a very distressing time, Victim Support wouldn’t be able to provide this invaluable service. The organisations makes a real difference.”
Lloyd went on to state: “Organisations like Victim Support give victims a voice in the criminal justice system and it’s vital that we work with them to improve the service we provide to victims and witnesses and make sure their needs are at the centre of everything we do.”
Anti-knife crime campaigner Brooke Kinsella MBE, who became Victim Support’s Ambassador last year, said: “Victim Support was there for me and my family when we needed them most. I can honestly say that we couldn’t have got through the experience without them. The volunteer who helped us made such a difference to our lives with his kindness, patience and strength. So much more than a shoulder to cry on, he was truly a lifeline for us in the darkest of times.”
“I’m so proud to be an ambassador for Victim Support as the organisation celebrates its 40th Anniversary, and want to take this opportunity to thank all of their staff and volunteers, past and present – from the bottom of my heart – for the amazing job they have done and continue to do.”
Celebratory events in the pipeline
Victim Support will be acknowledging the vital contribution of volunteers and staff old and new by way of a series of celebratory events over the coming months.
The last 40 years has seen Victim Support make huge strides – developing from supporting victims of crimes such as theft, to very serious crimes, including homicide, rape and emerging crimes such as human trafficking.
It has also set up national services to support more than 200,000 victims and witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales each year, as well as a national service to help families bereaved by homicide.
Some of the vital specialist work Victim Support now carries out includes anti-social behaviour and domestic violence projects, restorative justice programmes and preventative work in schools warning about the dangers of getting involved in gangs.
Victim Support’s CEO Javed Khan said: “We are told day in and day out that the work of our staff and volunteers makes a real difference to many, many people’s lives, and we are very proud of that. Much of our work wouldn’t be possible without our 5,600 dedicated volunteers, whose time alone is estimated to be worth £21 million. They are the backbone of Victim Support and I cannot thank them enough for their tireless efforts.”
Khan continued: “Over the last 40 years, more than 55,000 people have volunteered for the charity. It is one of the most rewarding contributions that anyone can make, and we are always welcoming new volunteers. If you want to help victims cope and recover then please get in touch with Victim Support.”
In conclusion, Khan stated: “There’s no better opportunity than this 40th Anniversary to offer our sincere thanks and gratitude to those who have made us what we are today, and continue to provide a world class service to victims and witnesses of crime. We are always mindful that the work we do needs to keep evolving, and we look forward to continuing to do all that we can to ensure victims’ needs are placed at the forefront of the criminal justice process.”