Being part of the Board in challenging times

23 December, 2020

Helen Roxburgh joined the Victim Support Scotland Board this year, bringing her finance and accounting background to the role of Treasurer. She writes about the challenges we are facing in the pandemic and how the Board is ensuring VSS best helps people affected by crime.

Covid-19 has been the biggest challenge for most people this year, but not for me.

I had my first child, Teddy, in August this year and I am now the proud mother of a baby who doesn’t sleep! I have quickly discovered the overwhelming love and attachment you can have to a tiny human but also the upheaval, worry and sleep deprivation that comes alongside it. Not to mention having a baby at a time when we are forced to spend more time in our own homes without the direct support of friends and family.

But life goes on behind closed doors regardless of a pandemic. Unfortunately for many people who are victims of crime, the situations they find themselves in have been made much worse this year. The work of Victim Support Scotland is more important than ever.

I joined the Board in April this year. Having previously volunteered with overseas charities I wanted to contribute to the efforts of an organisation closer to home. Victim Support Scotland (VSS) appealed to me as it helps such a wide range of people through their toughest times.  Now, at the end of an extremely difficult year, I feel proud to have joined the Board of a charity which is tirelessly working to help victims during the ongoing restrictions.

With my background in finance and accounting I have a responsibility to oversee financial management such as budgeting and project financing. In a year when funding sources have been varied, and the costs a charity incurred have been far from what we planned at the start, it has been an interesting but challenging period to join the Board.

When I first took on the role as Trustee and Treasurer I naively thought it would be a breeze to juggle a baby and volunteering. I’m not working right now so how hard could it be?! I was wrong. When days, nights and weeks blur into one and you’re on a constant rotation of feed, sick, nappy, sleep (for some!) repeat, somehow fitting in volunteering is not so straightforward!

I joined at a time when the Board are not allowed to meet face to face with each other, or the wonderful staff and volunteers who work for VSS. As someone who thrives on the company of others, this has been difficult. I have however been fortunate enough to speak with many members of staff over video call which would not have been possible under normal circumstances due to their busy roles on the ground supporting victims. The resilience and commitment of staff was immediately clear and has left a lasting impression on me. I work in an industry where many people would admit that they ‘work to live’. I have heard from VSS staff such encouraging words of genuine passion for the work they do and dedication to the charity’s mission of putting victims first. This is a refreshing difference in mentality for me to hear.

There has been such upheaval this year which has put increased pressure on victims and witnesses. Closure of the courts, lockdowns resulting in increased time spent at home and restrictions to face-to-face support have brought additional challenges to mental wellbeing at a time when victims of crime are already struggling.

Over recent months, the Board has been working with the VSS leadership team to allocate funding and resource to support people remotely. The Victims’ Fund which provides essential physical items to those in need has increased significantly this year and has been a great success. The VSS leadership team have been in regular contact with the Scottish Government and court system to monitor the situation and encourage progress towards justice for victims at this time. Looking to next year, the Board are keeping a close eye on the future restrictions and how the charity can best operate under them. We are looking at IT investment to continue to improve remote support and monitoring the availability of future funding which is vital to maintaining the best possible support service.

I am so lucky that Teddy is the biggest challenge in my life right now. Others are not so fortunate. For victims of crime across Scotland, the pandemic presents a huge hurdle when they are at their lowest. I hope that my small contribution as Trustee (in between changing nappies) will help the charity to continue to provide the best care and support for victims.

Find out more about our Board members and what they do.

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