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How Victim Support Norfolk can help when burglars strike

PUBLISHED: 09:32 05 November 2012

Victim Support Volunteer Suzanne Astley. Photo: Steve Adams

Victim Support Volunteer Suzanne Astley. Photo: Steve Adams

Victims of burglary can feel angry, shocked, worried, fearful and scared, which is where organisations like Victim Support come in.

Those whose lives are turned upside down by burglary need to have a feeling that justice has been done and the perpetrators have been punished, but they also require help and support to get through the dark days in the aftermath of the crime.

Last year, Victim Support Norfolk and Suffolk received 1,564 referrals for victims of burglary and made more than 12,000 telephone calls or visits to burglary victims.

The charity aims to contact each person by telephone within 24 hours of receiving a referral to offer a range of support to victims.

The most common form of help is emotional support by a trained volunteer who will help the victim to discuss their feelings and to come to terms with the crime. This emotional support will be provided for as long as the victim requires it, either face to face or by telephone.

Suzanne Astley, pictured, is one of 40 or so specially trained volunteer caseworkers from across the county who helps support families to find the strength to move on after a burglary.

Mrs Astley, who has been in the role for nearly 15 years, said: “We’re rung up by the office and given the referral, then we will ring that person and introduce ourselves and see what sort of support they need.

“A lot of them like to just do it over the phone, some like a visit, some like to meet in the office – we’re led by the victim. Burglary can be very, very traumatic for the people involved. It’s a violation of their private space and especially when young children are involved. I think perhaps sometimes one can forget that the children can be as traumatised as the parents, especially if some of their prized possessions have been taken.

“When they go to bed at night they will fear that the burglar is coming back and possibly get into their bedroom. They need plenty of reassurance.”

The charity can offer personal alarms if locks are not on windows, help with practical things such as insurance claims and possibly financial support to change locks or repair windows.

But it is the emotional support in particular that is key to victims, who might well require ongoing support months after the burglary or potential court case linked to the offence.

Mrs Astley said: “It’s not just one phone call and that’s it. It can be as long as that particular person needs us – our door is never shut.

“I always say my door is never shut and even six months down the line if something happens and they need further help and support, they can ring.”

She said that being a volunteer for Victim Support was a very rewarding role which provided an opportunity to offer life-changing help to people in need. She said: “I do it because I’m very lucky in life and just try and give something back and help those that have been through a very traumatic time. It’s really rewarding when you see a person whose been burgled gradually work their way back up again to being the confident person that they once were. We just do what we can to help.”

For more information about Victim Support visit www.victimsupport.org.uk or call 0845 456 5995.

Tomorrow: We speak to a reformed burglar who has advice about how you can prevent yourself becoming a victim.

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