Rebecca Van Der Veer and Emma Martin, Victim Support caseworkers for Keyham and the surrounding areas
How can you help people affected by what happened in Keyham in August 2021?
We provide mainly emotional support and that can be very wide. For some people it’s about just being able to talk to someone about how they are and how they are dealing with things. We can also look at people’s coping mechanisms and explore if they have unhealthy coping mechanisms and if they can replace them with healthy ones. For example, it’s easy to tell someone to stop drinking so much, but they will have to go somewhere with their feelings and they might pick up something else, so it’s finding a more healthy way to cope with what’s happened. We don’t have a magic way of solving people’s lives or making them happy but it’s about giving that extra bit of support.
Do your clients have to have a referral?
We actually prefer to call them our “people” rather than clients! They have to have a referral but they can also self-refer. So agencies can refer people to us if they have the person’s consent but people can refer themselves in as well through our helpline or online or live chat (see details below). There are many ways to get a referral in.
And what happens then?
The person would have a risk and need assessment focused on a few categories such as health and wellbeing, safety, support networks and trust in the criminal and justice system. And that assessment shows us some of what is needed and then we build around that. We don’t have a standard process of, ‘in the first meeting we do this and the second meeting that’ because everyone is different and our service is victim-led. It’s very flexible in that way and then we decide whether to meet at home or in a place where the person – and where we – feel safe to talk. And it’s good having two of us in the area which can make the experience more personable than someone approaching an organisation.
And, to be clear, the service you’re providing is not just for people affected by what happened in Keyham?
That’s right. We’re here for anyone who has been affected by any crime. So at the moment we’re also supporting people of other types of crime, some people may have reported it to the police and some might not. We focus specifically on Keyham and the surrounding areas but if people are from the wider Plymouth area there are more people in our team to help them. We must also remember that not everyone who has been affected by what happened in Keyham lives in Keyham. And if something is not in our remit we can signpost to other agencies.
Apart from individual support can you help the community in any other way?
We’re relatively new to the area and are very much at the point where we’re wanting to hear what’s needed from people. And if residents want to speak to us as a group we’re looking at getting peer and group support for them because some parents, for example, might find it beneficial to get together and speak to us about how what happened affects their parenting. So at the moment we’re quite flexible as long as it’s in our remit.