Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens highlights an innovative and creative approach to raising awareness of abuse to women following the opening of an art exhibition in Bristol.
Part of Yoko Ono’s Interventions/2 exhibition, Arising is a collaborative piece of work between sexual violence service Safe Link, domestic abuse service Next Link and curator and artist Jimmy Galvin. The exhibition focuses on 65 survivors who have used the victim services and their experience of domestic and sexual abuse.
The Next Link and Safe Link team have also delivered awareness training to museum staff in order to respond to anyone who discloses that they are victims. The exhibition is at the Georgian House in Bristol until 31 December 2019.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “I would encourage everyone to go and see this powerful exhibition at the Georgian House. It’s important that we give survivors a voice to share their experience and hopefully encourage other victims to come forward and ask for help.”
Carol Metters, CEO of Safe Link and Next Link, added: “Throughout the creation of the piece, we have been inspired by the number of victims who wanted to tell their story as a way of helping others. We were overwhelmed with the number of women who wanted to contribute and help. We are very proud and feel privileged to be part of the work.”
In addition to commending this important awareness raising, PCC Sue Mountstevens celebrates a wide range of victim’s services that she commissions; PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “Putting victims first is a policing priority in Avon and Somerset, and the OPCC and I have focused on commissioning tailored support services to help victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. It’s important that we give victims a voice in order for them to cope and recover from their experience.”
From April 2019, new contracts for a range for services commissioned by the OPCC commenced delivery:
- Safe Link is one of the services commissioned by the OPCC. The Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service provides independent support for women, men and children who have been the victim of rape and sexual abuse. Safe Link also supports the family of the victim and helps with practical problems such as housing, benefits and employers.
- Victim Support is a practical and emotional support service for adult victims of any crime or anti-social behaviour (ASB). The charity provides specialist support to help people cope and recover, as well as supporting them and witnesses through the criminal justice system.
Mark Thompson, Contracts Account Manager for Victim Support, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to use the support of Sue and the OPCC to further our work in Avon and Somerset. Victim Support was founded in Bristol over 40 years ago and we are proud to be continuing this work into the future.”
- A new provider for the Enhanced Adult Support Service, Swan Advocacy’s Victims of Crime Advocacy Service (VOCAS) supports the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in the community and helps them in having their voices heard. The charity ensures the most vulnerable members of the community have the same rights and opportunities as others.
Niki Westerling, Director of Development for Swan Advocacy, said: "Swan Advocacy were delighted to launch VOCAS in April. We have been working closely with the OPCC, other victim service providers and specialist partner agencies to ensure everyone in Avon and Somerset affected by crime or ASB is supported to cope, recover and rebuild. VOCAS provides professional independent advocacy, alongside practical and emotional support - giving a voice to vulnerable victims and those with additional needs."
- The Young Victims’ Service provides support for children and young people who have been victims of any crime or ASB. The service uses a range of methods including face to face and online work in order to empower young people to move forward from their experience. Recently, the service has also been awarded additional funding from the Home Office to support more children who have experienced domestic abuse.
Claire Bowers, Young Victims’ Service, said: “We really value the partnership between the OPCC and YVS in helping us to support young people to cope and recover from the experience of victimisation. We are delighted to have been able to extend our service to work with those affected by domestic abuse through Home Office funding.”
- Finally, Resolve West is a Restorative Justice service for victims of any crime or ASB. A restorative approach holds those responsible to account for what they have done and empowers victims by allowing them to communicate with the offenders about the impact of the crime. The charity facilitates restorative approaches between the victim and offender and this can be via face to face, through letters, Skype or other practical methods that both parties agree to.
Julie Cox, Director of Resolve West, said: “We are delighted that our RJ service, Restorative Approaches Avon and Somerset, has been successful in being commissioned by the OPCC to continue to deliver Restorative Justice across Avon and Somerset from 2019.
“It is vital that Restorative Justice is practised safely and consistently, and that we continue to ensure that people’s voices are heard. The work of our dedicated staff and volunteers has resulted in high levels of satisfaction from victims, leaving them feeling more confident, safe and secure with an increase in people’s health and wellbeing.”
The services above are just a few of the wide range of service that the PCC commissions, others include; support and intervention for those at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation, therapeutic provision for those who have been victims of sexual violence and support for individuals who have found themselves in the criminal justice system and may have mental health or substance misuse issues. To find out information on all of the PCC’s commissioned services, visit: https://www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/Partnerships/Other-PCC-supported-services.aspx
Victims do not have to report to the police to access any of the above services. However, the services will support the victim in making a statement to the police if the victim wishes to do so. For more information in accessing support services, visit Lighthouse.
As part of the PCC’s celebration and awareness raising, the OPCC will be sharing more information and stories on each of these specialist services over the next few weeks. To find out more follow #BeHeard.
Posted on Monday 14th October 2019