For the thousands of people who rely on victim services, the ability for the Catch22 teams to adapt in these difficult times has been essential. While the victim teams have always offered services over the phone, as well as in person, the lockdowns sped up much of the innovation already underway.
Victim service referrals are increasing each year, particularly amongst young people and hidden victims – these are individuals who are not accessing victim services because they may be vulnerable, may not trust the police, and/or may not be aware that their experience has been of a criminal nature.
Whether it’s the victim of domestic violence, who may not feel safe in the lead up to a criminal trial, or the parent of a young victim, who is struggling with how to support their child – Catch22’s victim services have been able to continue supporting thousands of people over the last year.
How our victim services are going digital
Some other ways that our victim services have adapted to a digital way of working include:
- Digital counselling: Last August, Victim First began to offer digital counselling for domestic and sexual violence across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. This counselling, provided by digital mental health service Kooth, means that thousands of more victims, who may feel uncomfortable speaking over the phone, are able to access help online.
- Remote fraud support: Hertfordshire’s Beacon Victim Care service has been recognised nationally for the outstanding impact its Fraud Hub has had on Hertfordshire’s victims of scams and fraud. Through effective advocacy and empowering victims, they have helped claim back more than £1.1 million and recently, whilst operating remotely, won the Tackling Economic Crime Award.
- Restorative justice: In our Lockdown Diaries series, Jas Purewal talked about how his team are supporting people towards restorative justice, even while lockdown is in place.
Challenges to going digital
There is an immense need for victim and support services to go digital, but more than one-third of charities have reported that they lack the funds to do so. With many charities still purely operating offline, service users could be missing out on the crucial support available unless this is made a priority.
Some quick wins that could really make a difference to your victim services could be:
- Train your staff in digital skills, using the free tools available.
- Talk to your commissioners about how digital adaptation could be funded
- Seek advice from partners on how you can improve your outreach, particularly if going digital is new for your team.