Helping people to recover is hugely satisfying
Jo initially contacted Victim Support Scotland seeking support. Impressed with the service offered, she volunteered for five years, before joining the staff team as a Service Delivery Officer in Perth.
Seventeen years ago, my father was on holiday in Bournemouth when he was the victim of a hit and run. He had been out for an evening walk after supper when a speeding car lost control, mounted the pavement and hit him. My father was thrown into the air and landed in the middle of the road. The car then reversed over him and sped off.
We got the call in the middle of the night and drove down immediately. We were told to expect the worst, but thankfully, despite very severe injuries, he survived. I stayed with him in England for five days but then had to return to Scotland.
In Scotland I felt so far away from my father and stepmother. I knew they needed help and wished there was an organisation who could support them both, as they were really struggling. Several days later, in the midst of the chaos of unpacking, I stumbled across an advert for Victim Support Scotland in the local paper. I went into the Perth office and found them so helpful. When I explained the details of the attempted murder, they put me in touch with their counterparts in England who went to see my dad, helped support him and guided him through all the practical information that he needed. When he was transferred to London they contacted other agencies to help him.
I cannot explain the overwhelming relief that we all felt knowing that my father had help from people who understood what he was going through.
A few weeks later I went back in to the Victim Support Scotland office in Perth to thank them for their support. I had been so impressed by the difference they had made to my dad and to me. After a bit of chat, they popped the question – had I ever thought about volunteering? It hadn’t crossed my mind before, but the difference they made really inspired me to get involved.
I was a service volunteer in Perth for five years and I absolutely loved being able to help. Through home visits and office appointments I supported people who had experienced crimes such as assault, domestic abuse, house-breaking, anti-social behaviour and vandalism, as well as giving support to families bereaved by murder.
We see people very soon after they have experienced the crime and are usually suffering from trauma and distress. They often know nothing about the criminal justice system and can be upset and confused. I was able to build a long-term supporting relationship with each person, often working with them regularly over a six-month period or longer, in some cases right up until a trial. With a mixture of practical help, information and reassurance, I helped them rebuild their confidence in daily life and feel less daunted by being a witness at court. Being able to help people on their journey to recovery is hugely satisfying.
When a staff post came up, I successfully applied and have spent the last 12 years as a Service Delivery Officer. It has been a fantastic journey for me. I now guide a large team of Victim Support Scotland volunteers who truly make a huge difference to people’s lives – I know because I was one of them.