Kerry-Louise McGeachy: The importance of supporting victims in the local community

Kerry-Louise McGeachy

Kerry-Louise McGeachy - Credit: Archant

Kerry-Louise McGeachy, Divisional Manager for Victim Support Dorset, reveals the role played by the charity and how you could help support victims in your local community

Victim Support is the independent charity that helps anyone affected by crime across England and Wales. We offer free, confidential and impartial advice every year to help people move beyond their crime.

When I joined the Victim Support team in Dorset back in April 2014, there was a small office and a team of three. Two years on, we are a 12 strong team with two hubs across the county serving Dorset - it’s been a long journey, but we’re finally getting there!

We have recently moved into the old police premises in Boscombe. This new location offers us, for the first time, dedicated rooms where we can work with victims of crime and their families. People need to feel safe and comfortable to be able to talk about crime, so with that in mind we are proud to have this opportunity for them to drop in and speak to our dedicated case workers. We also have a comfy family room for children and young people. We also have a new local rate number for the county – 0300 3030163 – our team are here to listen and support over the phone.

In May, we opened our North Dorset Victims Hub in Blandford Forum. This recognises that services are quite scattered in the more rural parts of our beautiful county, and challenging transport links may mean a person in crisis has to spend several days visiting agencies for support. Our new hub allows us to offer a multi-agency approach to support, working with lots of different partners, we will offer a ‘one stop shop’ for victims of crime.

We’re delighted that our dedication to providing victims with the best possible care and support has been recognised by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), who has provided us with funding to continue our core service for the next three years. Our staff team is thriving, with everyone benefiting from each other’s skills and expertise. We have 30 highly trained and passionate volunteers, most of whom have been with us for 25 years, which we think speaks volumes!

Though the last year’s changes have been challenging, they have also been rewarding, and we believe the future is bright for Victim Support in Dorset. And that’s where you come in! Although we have a great army of volunteer support, we need more.

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Crime can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and physical health and the support we offer can provide a lifeline. Volunteers are at the heart of this, whether they give emotional support to a victim or help with fundraising, administration or training, volunteers are instrumental to our success and to helping reduce the harm that crime does to our communities.

Can you spare some time to support people affected by crime? Would you like to play a key role in your community, supporting people in need? Would you like to find out more on crime, the criminal justice and legal systems? Yes? Then get in touch!

All our volunteers get accredited training; regular support and we need people across the county. If you would like to get involved, give the Dorset team a ring on 0300 3030163 and talk to one of our volunteer managers. We’d love to have you on board!

About Kerry-Louise McGeachy

Kerry has lived in Dorset all her life and joined the Victim Support team in 2014 as a Senior Manager for the Dorset team. Her background is in education, but she has been involved with the criminal justice system for many years, working with offenders to improve their educational levels, employability and chances of resettlement. For Kerry, it was a natural progression to turn her focus to supporting victims of crime across the county. She is now Divisional Manager for the area.

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