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National Chair visits Aberdeen and Shetland

As National Chair of VSS, I am trying to visit as many offices as I can, time permitting, so I can meet and talk to our staff and volunteers. It’s a great opportunity to hear what things are like on the ground as well as getting to know people.

Our Victims Service office shares premises with a Norwegian Church.

 I have recently headed North, starting with our office in Aberdeen where I was very pleased to meet Victims Service staff members Alison and Joan and Alison from the Witness Service, as well as volunteers Edina and Irene. It was interesting to hear about the challenges they face and how they manage to deliver services. Everyone was looking forward to improvements with our IT! I was particularly impressed by the clear commitment and passion they all feel for what we do. You will probably have noticed that I managed to take a lovely snap including emails on the screen in the picture which I’ve had to block out!!


I then travelled on a small bobbly plane to Sumburgh. In case you’re not quite sure where Shetland is exactly, here is a map similar to one I saw on a sweatshirt during my visit.


At 60 degrees North, I was surprised to learn Lerwick is 350 miles North of Edinburgh.

In our Lerwick office, I met our staff member Iain, who is ably supported by a volunteer. He covers both Victim and Witness services. The office is located in a one stop shop of local support services. I like this model.

I had a fascinating meeting with Iain, an ex-police officer. As a native of Barra, he knows about island life and the particular challenges it brings to communities. Whilst it all looked pretty idyllic on the day I was there, some of the issues we discussed were quite a surprise to me. I was left with a very strong impression of how dedicated Iain is to his work. He was particularly concerned at the lack of mental health support there is for those who desperately need it. It’s always the case that we’d like to be able to do more, but it was clear to me we provide a really good service in Shetland despite the difficulties.

The overwhelming majority of Viking males had beards. However, they weren’t necessarily big, unkempt beards (Beards in History; The Vikings)

Many thanks to all who helped make this such an interesting and informative visit.


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