Signpost, the service introduced by Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, to support victims and those affected by crime, helped over 4,000 across the county last year.
Over the course of 2020, Signpost adapted to changes in crimes such as Domestic Abuse when it was more difficult for victims to seek help and leave their homes during lockdown and the specialist team of Victim Care Coordinators supported some 4,338 victims, working closely with partner organisations and charities to ensure the right care and route to help was given.
“It’s such a tribute to the way that each and every Care Coordinator answering the phones or returning messages to those affected by crime really lives and breathes this work. If they can get someone to the right help for them it may be the difference between a crime permanently overshadowing their life and those of the people around them and them moving forward and having a full life free from anxiety,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“Signpost as a service - with its call centre and supporting website - has only been in operation since April 2018. It takes a while for people to know what services are out there but the fact that more than 4,000 found it last year, even during lockdown when people weren’t out and about spotting posters and leaflets, means it is truly getting established as the go to service for victim support in Bedfordshire.
“Signpost does what it says on the tin and points people to the right services for them and that includes both accommodation and counselling where that’s the right thing and even practical help such as mending damage to a property to make it safe and secure for the victim of crime. I’m incredibly proud of what the service has become and of every single person who works within it - as well as of every individual with the courage to pick up the phone or go online to ask for help,” said the PCC.
Simon Powell, Head of Victim Care at Signpost, said: “Signpost has continued to provide support to Bedfordshire’s victims of crime throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so through this lockdown period. It’s important that people know we're here to provide support during these difficult times.”
The service, which continues to run as normal throughout the national lockdown, operates Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm and on Saturdays between 9am and 5pm and can be accessed by calling 0800 0282 887. If calling out of hours, there is an option to leave a voicemail, which will be responded to the next working day, alternatively, those in need of support can visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com where they can submit a self-referral form.
The team at Signpost has been working closely with partner organisations and charities to ensure support is still available for victims, whilst adhering to Covid-19 regulations and ensuring that the safety of all staff and service users is a priority. The new challenges have been met with a surge in demand for some services, but partnerships with organisations such as The Counselling Foundation, resulted in over 100 victims being supported with talking therapies in just five months last year. Counselling sessions were offered remotely to victims of Domestic Abuse, with the remaining sessions covering crimes such as recent and historic Sexual Abuse, Physical Assault, Harassment, Burglary and Fraud.
The PCC created a fund of £46,000 to provide emergency accommodation during lockdown to those fleeing Domestic Abuse and her team found hotels and housing for victims despite the difficulties of lockdown with so many facilities closing. She provided smart devices like phones and tablets for those service users working with the county’s Family Drug and Alcohol Courts to help them report such abuse and continue with their rehabilitation programme, remaining in touch with court support staff in confidence rather than having to share devices.
“We have been working alongside our partners to ensure we keep the support channels open to victims of crime. It’s vital that victims have access to support services at all times. Now more than ever victims need our help and I would like to thank our partners for the continuous hard work they put in to provide this,” added Simon Powell.
If you have been affected by a crime, Signpost offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.