Posted: Tuesday 18th February 2020
As part of the #BeHeard campaign, we spoke to Claire Bowers, Restorative Justice and Supervision Manager at Young Victims’ Service (YVS), who told us how they help children and young adults.
YVS (Young Victim’s Service) supports children and young people aged 5-18 (up to 25 with additional needs) who have been affected by crime, anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse across Avon & Somerset.
YVS has been operating under the North Somerset Youth Offending Service since 2014, supporting young victims of crime and anti-social behaviour to process and move forward from their experiences. More recently we were awarded additional funding from the Home Office to increase our provision and offer support to young people affected by domestic abuse. The staff team has grown and we are excited to be able to offer our service to more young people across the constabulary area.
We receive referrals for experiences such as assault, threats, bullying, sexting, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation and cyber-bullying. The young victim’s advocates work with the young people using a variety of interventions depending on their age and the experience. The focus of the sessions are led by the young person and based around working with them to cope, recover and build resilience. This might involve talking about feelings, playing games with the young person, doing crafts together, making plans or other activities. Advocates can also support a young person through the criminal justice and court process if needed, or if the young person should choose not to report to the police, they will support them with this decision.
We are very proud of the work that our advocates do and know it makes a real difference. We were very touched to have been written the following poem by the mother of one of the young people we were supporting for issues of grooming by a gang and county lines:
Young victims have been amazing,
They help see the sunshine through the rain,
They help put into perspective this awful pain,
The patience they have shown has ensured together we have all grown,
Working with us to see the light again,
Ensuring we don't lose our own fight.
The gang tried to get a hold and without them our story wouldn't unfold,
They gave us a voice when it all seemed cold,
Helping us realise it’s not our fault that it was the criminal that rocked our boat.
Thank you for helping my amazing family.
You will never know how much that means to me.
It is so very important that children and families talk about their difficult experiences and know how to get the help they need, otherwise the ripple effects of crime and domestic abuse can be far reaching. We are pleased to be able to intervene and support families to recover and positively move forward with their lives. Anyone can refer into the service, they just need to send in a referral form.
We work in partnership with other victim services, drawing on their different areas of expertise. It is all about making a difference for the young people that we work with. We are very excited to be part of the #Take5! project where we will be working with the other services to deliver workshops in schools.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has made our work possible. Without their support, we would not have been able to do the work that we do. We are extremely excited about the future of the YVS and how many more young people we can reach so that we can help them move on from their negative experiences.
To contact YVS for support for yourself, a family member or friend please ring them on 01275 88 44 88 or download the referral form via https://youngvictims.wordpress.com/contact/