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Busy year for Victim Support Isle of Man 24 November 2008

VICTIM Support Isle of Man has experienced an increase in the level of referrals during the past year.

At its recent annual general meeting the independent charity reported a 35 per cent rise in the number of people using its services. It is understood that this is mainly attributable to an increase in awareness about the wide range of assistance Victim Support can provide.

The organisation, which receives funding from the Department of Home Affairs, helps Isle of Man residents to cope with the affects of crime by providing free, confidential and independent advice. It also works closely with witnesses required to give evidence in court cases by offering them guidance and moral support.

Home Affairs Minister Adrian Earnshaw MHK said:

‘Victim Support Isle of Man performs an important role within the local community and its staff and volunteers deserve great credit for their tireless efforts. The Island is acknowledged as being one of the safest places to live in the British Isles and recent statistics showed that crime levels in many categories are at their lowest for more than a decade. However, the success of Victim Support and its developing profile mean that it is helping more people than ever before, often in very difficult and emotional circumstances.’

During the past 12 months, the organisation witnessed a rise in the number of referrals in cases of domestic abuse, physical assault, road deaths and sexual assault.

Victim Support IoM Manager Paula Gelling said:

‘In some respects we could be victims of our own success in that more people are aware of the services we offer. However, we know there are still lots of people out there who don’t know about Victim Support and the Witness Service. We need the public’s help to reinforce our message and support our work to assist victims of crime in the Isle of Man. They are by no means all “battered wives” – there are men who have been assaulted, attacked or had their homes burgled and they also need our help.’

Paula added:

‘We offer free, confidential and independent support and, if required, will put people in touch with other agencies. It is valuable work, taking time and patience, but it is very worthwhile as we are convinced that victims and witnesses need more help than the judicial system can offer them.’

Many people who seek assistance from Victim Support are referred by the police, while others approach the organisation directly. The charity’s new patron, Mrs Rosemary Penn MBE, told the annual meeting that she had been very impressed by the dedication, commitment and level of service provided by the staff, volunteers and Board of Trustees. As a magistrate, Mrs Penn said she had seen first hand how the Witness Service had helped to relax a witness and ensure the smooth running of the legal process.

She added:

‘This organisation would not exist without its volunteers and I’m very grateful to those who are involved and appreciate the difficult job they do.’

Those sentiments were echoed by Chief Probation Officer David Sellick who stood down as chairman of Victim Support after seven years.

‘This charity really does make a positive difference to people’s lives and I cannot speak highly enough about those who work so hard behind the scenes.'

Victim Support is always on the lookout for more volunteers and additional funds. Anybody who could spare a few hours a week to contribute to a challenging and rewarding workload would be made welcome.

Similarly, donations or initiatives to support the charity’s main fundraiser of the year – the hugely popular Essentially Dancing event – would be most appreciated. For further information contact Paula Gelling or Denise Groenewald on 679950.

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