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Victim Support needs your support

BY KAREN MANGNALL
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2009
Photo: NEIL DUDDY

JOIN US: Victim Support volunteers, from left: Peter Fetaui and Betty Dowswell, with Papakura Victim Support coordinator Kathleen Browne.

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Victim Support needs more volunteers in Papakura to help people get through trauma or tragedy.

Coordinator Kathleen Browne says the organisation’s seen a "big increase" in demand for its services in the past year, especially from victims of serious crime.

"Crime is on the increase especially with the economic crisis and people are just needing somebody to talk to."

Volunteers are vital to ensuring Victim Support is effective as a 24-hour service for people suffering crises – from family violence to a sudden death in the family, burglary or a road accident.

Services range from providing a sympathetic ear in the immediate aftermath of trauma to referrals for counselling or to family refuges and other agencies or accompanying victims to court.

Betty Dowswell has been a Victim Support volunteer since 2001 and spends most of her time supporting families at coroner’s court or district court.

"I enjoy it," she says. "We are giving people information and resources to empower them."

Most families who have to attend an inquest at the coroner’s court "really don’t know what it’s all about", she says.

"I make contact with them and explain what’s happening and stay with them. That takes a lot of the fear away."

Listening closely is important, Betty says.

"You can have up to 20 people from a family and pick up that someone’s really not handling the death of their loved one very well and you can recommend counselling to help them."

Victim Support is particularly keen to recruit more men like Peter Fetaui who’s been a Papakura volunteer for more than two years.

He fits his Friday night shift at Victim Support in with a fulltime job and study.

"I’ll do anything from domestic violence to sudden deaths," Peter says. Being a Victim Support volunteer provides a challenge and the satisfaction of helping people in need.

"With a lot of people we’re helping, they’re amazed that there’s an organisation like Victim Support and that they can get access to services they didn’t know about before."

Peter says good volunteers need to be "people people and open-minded about a lot of things and patient".

"It’s quite a humbling thing."

Victim Support in Papakura is looking for 15 to 20 new recruits for the next training intake in April.

After training, volunteers work with a more experienced "buddy" like Betty or Peter.

Volunteer help can range from taking phone calls, doing data entry or accompanying victims to court a few hours a week, to going on a regular overnight or weekend roster for callouts to help people in their homes.

For information, contact Kathleen Browne on 295-0228, or 0800-VOLUNTEER or visit www.victimsupport.org.nz.

95,000 needed help last year

Volunteers will be out collecting for the annual Victim Support appeal this week.

Last year Victim Support helped 95,000 New Zealanders hurt by crime and trauma , from burglary to domestic violence, homicide to car accidents. Chief executive Tony Paine says every day Victim Support volunteers are on the spot within 45 minutes of getting the call to help all victims.

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The Victim Support appeal runs until March 18.

Donations can be made to Victim Support collectors or phone 0900 VICTIM to donate $20.

- Papakura Courier

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