Interview with Niamh Quinn from Advocacy VSV.
Tell us a bit about yourself and/or your organisation.
My name is Niamh, I am founder of and current Advocate/Co-ordinator for Advocacy VSV.
After almost 15 years of working within the Criminal Justice System I set up this Charity to offer an Advocating service for Victims of Sexual Violence. We offer support to both males and females who reside across the Southern Trust area, regardless of demographic characteristics, as long as an individual is 16years and over , we will offer a free and confidential service. We recognise Sexual Violence is one of the most damaging and isolating offences that anyone can become victim, we accept the Criminal Justice System is daunting and intimidating and we empathise with Victims of this crime who are too frightened to disclose. Having our support from the very early stages of perhaps considering reporting, right through the entire process enables victims to begin their journey to recovery with more confidence and security.
On our service users behalf we will liaise with both statutory and voluntary services to ensure they are offered the best advice, guidance and professional representation throughout the entirety of our intervention. We set up as home visiting support, allowing us to support an individual from the safety of their own home, or wherever is safe for them. This home visiting support enables even the most isolated and hard to reach individuals to receive support. This home based service means we are offering a protective factor and are ideally placed to identify quickly, concerns and need which could potentially be indicative of deterioration in an individuals circumstances.
Our emphasis is on supporting individuals at an early stage to ensure the support we offer has the best possible impact. At initial assessment stage we support each service user to assess how this crime has affected them and together we devise a package of intervention to best suit these needs. Assessments are reviewed at regular intervals throughout intervention ensuring individual lead their journey. We are entirely victim focused; us being the ‘voice of hope’ symbolizes our passion for supporting individuals who are possibly at stage in their lives when they are unable to find their own voice.
How well have you/your organisation adapted to the pandemic?
Throughout each of the lock downs/circuit breakers we have continued to support our service users. We continued to meet in person where it was risk assessed as safe to do so, we continued to support clients in attending appointments which they felt unable to do so by themselves, we continued to signpost to other specialist services where required and have continued to work collaboratively with our referrers and indeed funders to ensure Advocacy VSV remained central to Victims support networks.
Prior to lockdown there would have been quite a few platforms for us to attend to sell our service and indeed gain awareness of other supports within the Trust area. I do feel there is a need for these to re-start. Community networking events are very important for a new organisation like ours to raise awareness of our service and our availability.
OFFER: What support are you currently offering and are you open to members of Community Network NI and/or the wider community Making contact?
We advocate on behalf of and support Victims Of Sexual Violence. For members of the Community Network NI it may be helpful to be aware of our service should anyone be faced with a disclosure. Its vital to know what to do and who to contact should someone entrust you with a disclosure
If you would like to be connected with this offer of support, please follow the link below and enter “VSV” to the first field.