The Victims’ Fund provides a financial lifeline to many vulnerable victims across the country
A support fund which helps those who have fallen victim at the hands of criminals has been extended.
Victim Support Scotland has announced an expansion to the Victims’ Fund, which is providing a financial lifeline to many vulnerable victims across the country.
Victim Support Scotland has successfully supported over 200 people during the last six months who have been in urgent need of financial help.
Finances available through the fund have helped people by covering costs of security systems, rent for those escaping domestic abuse, mobile phones, funeral costs for bereaved families, and more.
Early this year, the Scottish Government announced an increase in its contributions towards the Victims’ Fund to the sum of £100,000, in order to provide critical financial aid to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable victims during the pandemic. Individual victims can receive up to £3,000 for a wide range of goods and services.
Demand for the Victims’ Fund has been so great that this initial £100K has now been spent and Victim Support Scotland is committed to expanding it further, with a view to helping even more victims.
Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: “It is an unfortunate reality that many of Scotland’s most vulnerable victims find themselves in financial destitution.
“The coronavirus pandemic has only exaggerated this already harsh reality for many. The Victims’ Fund has allowed us to provide critical financial support at the point of need for victims. I have heard direct feedback from recipients of support from the Victim’s Fund as to the lifechanging impact this has had on them, relieving them from difficult and often life-threatening situations.
“I am therefore pleased to announce that Victim Support Scotland will expand the Victims’ Fund with a view to supporting even more people affected by crime across Scotland. Our plan is to at least double the amount of investment that was put into the Victims’ Fund earlier this year over time, allowing us to continue to support people through the pandemic and beyond.”
Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The Victims’ Fund has enabled victims of crime to be able to quickly access support when they need it most, and has already helped hundreds of people across Scotland since lockdown.
“We know that for many victims of crime, such as those suffering from domestic abuse, the pandemic has exacerbated what was already a deeply worrying and stressful time.
“The increased value of the Victims’ Fund will mean more people will be able to access help for things like food shopping and utility bills, as well as practical assistance for domestic abuse victims who may have to urgently leave their homes.
“The Victims’ Fund is also able to help with other costs which have arisen as a direct result of being a victim of crime, such as contributions towards insurance excesses, funeral costs, improved home security, and replacement windows, doors and furniture.”
The fund is open to any victim of any crime who is resident in Scotland currently accessing victim and other support services. It is also available for people who live outside of Scotland who have been bereaved by a crime that has occurred within Scotland.
It operates on the basis that there is an urgent identified need, no other organisation can meet this need, and the crime must have been reported to the police or other organisation.
Third sector organisations and public bodies can apply for the Victims’ Fund on behalf of victims that they are supporting. Victims of crime can also apply directly themselves. Victim Support Scotland is also calling on further partners to come forward and access financial support for victims in this way.
One such recipient of the Victims’ Fund is Doreen* an elderly woman who was assaulted at home. Victim Support Scotland was able to provide her with financial assistance and an alarm system was installed in her home. In the words of the police officer, who worked with Victim Support Scotland to support her: “She didn't feel the need to barricade herself into her home or her bedroom. She also reported getting her first good night’s sleep and woke up to her alarm clock for the first time since the incident a year ago.”
Caroline* and her seven-year-old-son left the family home after emotional and physical abuse from her partner became more intense during the coronavirus lockdown. With the help of the Victims’ Fund, Victim Support Scotland and the local Women’s Aid organisation supported Caroline and her son with food, clothes and bedding. This made their emergency accommodation feel more comfortable and was vital to helping them both feel safe and less anxious.
(* names changed to protect identities)