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Offender management and rehabilitationVictim services

Supporting victims: what does a holistic approach look like?

Two men sit across a table from one another having a conversation.

Catch22’s work crosses sectors, from offender resettlement and rehabilitation services to health and wellbeing support for children and young people. Catch22’s approach to delivering victim services draws on its broader expertise of services delivered right across the welfare cycle, which work to build resilience and aspiration in people and communities. This blog explores the benefits of a victim support delivery model informed by broader service delivery practice.

Holistic understanding of social disadvantage

At Catch22, we care about all aspects of our communities. This is why our work is varied: employment, justice, education, and young people and families; we want to fight everything that makes people’s lives hard and offer the tools that make them better. This means we don’t just address immediate needs, we peek under the hood.

We know how to “spot the signs” of other problems that require intervention, understand how to help, and tailor our offer to individuals, not labels. For example, what makes someone a victim of romance fraud? Loneliness is a common culprit. For someone who’s been left broke and heartbroken, we go beyond the practical support of advocating their needs to banks and writing to the financial ombudsman to reimburse funds. Once the practical, immediate needs are covered, we look at the emotional needs that can be just as important for some people, through services such as our Romance Fraud Peer Support Group, which helps tackle isolation.

“All the girls are so lovely and supportive to me. I feel I can say anything to them, and no one judges you. I feel they understand what I went through, and it helps me put my life back on track.”

– Peer Support Group attendee

Best practice sharing

Where we can’t support an individual with their peripheral needs ourselves, we work collaboratively to make an onward referral to a service that can. Over 200 years of service delivery means that Catch22 has established strong networks and partnerships with other organisations, government agencies, and community groups. Through these, people who come to our services don’t have to wait to get help or look for referrals. No case is too complex or challenging for us because if we can’t address someone’s specific problem, someone from our internal or external network will step in.

For instance, in 2024 we will be launching two Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) accredited advisor roles positioned in Community Links. These will use expertise around fraud gathered from our victims services to support those who pass through Community Links with fraud, benefits and debt advice. This would not have been possible without a tried and tested model already in operation within our victim services.

Dual approach to safer communities

Our most significant advantage is that we tackle both sides of crime, helping victims in the aftermath of an offence and offenders in their rehabilitative process. Doing so aligns with our broader mission of promoting safer communities and helps us understand the “Victim-Perpetrator Cycle”. In other words, facilitating both offender and victim support services gives us a unique lens into the cycle of crime, showcasing to us that, very often, offenders are themselves victims. This means we have the tools, practices, and expertise to support them effectively to move forward, minimising the risk of recidivism.

One example of this is in Restorative Justice (RJ). Restorative Justice is a practice that allows the victim to feel involved and heard outside of the usual clinical processes we often see in the criminal justice system. The victim is at the centre of the process and gets the opportunity to ask questions directly to the perpetrator, which can significantly help the healing process of both parties. By working across the victim and offender sectors, Catch22 can develop integrated and coordinated services, like Restorative Justice, that address both needs. This approach can help bridge gaps in the system and heal communities.

Helping individuals without using labels like ‘victim’ or ‘criminal’ means that our support is imbued with care and goes beyond a tick-box exercise of doing all the practical necessities, as crucial as these are. We come from the communities we serve and are an organisation built by social workers. We care for both the victims of crime and the causes of crime, empowering victims and offenders through collaboration and resource-sharing to create a safer, happier, and more connected society.