Posted: Saturday 12th August 2017
Young Victims’ Advocates (YVA) cover the whole of the Avon and Somerset Police area, working from a variety of bases including from home, in their car or at partner agencies’ premises.
Because the focus of the team is on service delivery, there is no admin support, so each YVA takes it in turn to cover ‘duty’. This means they will start by setting the main phone line (01275 88 44 88) to divert to their mobile phone so that they can take any calls that come in during the day. Next they will log in and check our secure email account (firstname.lastname@example.orgK) and our public account (email@example.com) to see what referrals have come in that way. Those that are received are logged onto the system, an email sent to the referrer to acknowledge safe receipt and initial contact made with the young person and/or their family to say that we are available to help.
The ‘duty’ YVA will then carry on with their main work – visiting young victims at their school or home or wherever is most ‘comfortable’ for them and providing opportunity to talk about what is happening; they will be talking to parents and other involved agencies to check details, see what other support might be available, or advocate for support to be made available. Some time will be spent planning sessions for specific young people because every response is bespoke to the individual, their personality, needs and circumstances as well as the nature of their victimisation.
Other visits during the day might include supporting a young victim and their parent/carer(s) to visit Court prior to, or while giving evidence; talking to Police/Lighthouse staff to clarify issues and get answers relating to case progress.
YVAs build strong relationships with young victims who have been through often extremely challenging situations – including witnessing parent upon parent assaults, being assaulted themselves (sometimes by ‘friends’ or by unknown parties), or have been subject to online abuse or grooming (cybercrime is a significant growth area). YVAs have to get close enough to provide support, while enabling the young victim to grow and move on from their experience as quickly as possible to allow them to ‘cope and recover’.
As young people are usually in education, some visits take place in the evening, or even at the weekend, so the end of the day can be quite late. When it comes it is a final check of emails and phones ready for tomorrow when it all starts again. However, our message is clear, if you're a young person and you need someone to talk to, we're here for you, please get in touch.
Young Victims’ Service