A support service set up to help victims and witnesses of crime recover has delivered support to more than 33,000 people in 30 months, it has been revealed.
Victim First is funded by Leicestershire PCC Lord Willy Bach to improve the wellbeing and emotional recovery of survivors of crime including victims of sexual exploitation, violence, burglary and domestic abuse.
The new-look service, delivered by charity Catch22, launched in August 2018 and received 33,276 referrals up to the end of January 2021 – 16% (5,256) of which were provided with enhanced support to meet their recovery needs.
Impressively, 98.4% of these service users said they were better able to cope with aspects of their lives due to the support they had received from Victim First while 97% said they had improved health and wellbeing.
Lord Willy Bach today announced a two-year extension to the current three-year contract with Catch22 and praised the provider for a wealth of achievements over the past 30 months which include the award of a Victim’s Choice Quality Mark in February last year.
“Victim First has transformed countless lives and there is no doubt that without its intervention, many more vulnerable victims of crime would be suffering alone and in silence,” he said.
“The pandemic has increased vulnerability in so many ways. We know that victims of domestic abuse, in particular, have faced an increased risk of harm while locked at home with their abusers and that there is great strain on providers to meet soaring demand. Victim First has risen to the challenges with the launch of new digital services that provide remote support to anyone who needs it.
“Helping victims of crime recover remains a top priority, especially those who are reluctant or afraid to seek help. This is why it is so important to me to listen and understand the needs and experiences of survivors. We are always looking to improve the care we provide and I am incredibly proud of the positive feedback we have received from those who have already accessed our services.
“Victim First has received recognition nationally for its approach and I am confident with Catch22’s experience and leadership, the service will continue to go from strength to strength in the future.”
Paul Kiggell, Catch22’s Assistant Director of Justice (Victim Services), added: “We are thrilled to see that the relentless efforts of the Victim First team have been recognised. Supporting hundreds of victims every year, we know the impact crime has on every single person - and the power that the right support can offer.
“Thanks to Lord Willy Bach's support, Catch22 is able to innovate and deliver this service through immense challenges too - during Covid-19, we saw our referrals increase because we could offer digital counselling services and were able to reach out to more young people and more hidden victims.
“The team will continue this innovation, building on our restorative justice work and our local outreach, ensuring victims are a priority in all communities across Leicestershire and Rutland.”
Among the many thousands of survivors supported by Victim First was a victim of domestic abuse who suffered violent attacks by her partner of seven years. The woman, who was worried about the impact of the violence on her 13-year-old daughter, reached out to Victim First after spotting details of the service on a text message from the police.
After an initial call, a caseworker rang the woman every week until the end of a criminal trial, which resulted in her ex-partner’s imprisonment and the granting of a restraining order. The survivor said Victim First did not judge her and provided care and advice in a way that made sense and was supportive throughout her journey.
Of the 33,276 referrals received since August 2018, 29,999 were from Leicestershire Police, while 795 were self-referrals and 2,482 were from partner agencies.
In August last year, the service secured additional funding through the Ministry of Justice to offer digital counselling for victims of domestic and sexual violence across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Counselling has been provided by Kooth, a leading UK provider of digital mental health services, since August 2020.
It continues to champion a successful Restorative Justice scheme, which has received 125 referrals since August 2018. These services enable victims of crime to seek redress and closure for their experiences through communication with an offender, helping them to move on.
Victim First, which won an LGBT Inclusivity Award in February last year, has also supported 390 children and young people through the provision of a dedicated young person’s caseworker and group sessions.
In a recent survey, 83% of survivors said they were satisfied with the Victim First service.
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Thursday 11th February 2021