Our new five-year strategy: Empowering people affected by crime

28 April, 2021

Flora Henderson, Vice-Chair (Strategy) on the Victim Support Scotland Board, writes about the objectives of our new five-year strategy ‘Empowering people affected by crime’.

Traumatic experiences often have a deeply profound and devastating impact. Not just in the immediate aftermath, but for years afterwards. It is vital that the right support is available and easy to find.

I lead a service that supports people who have experienced childhood abuse. Universally, people we work with have been profoundly affected by crime, and often, lack vital support at key points. They may not have been believed or found themselves seeking justice and navigating an intimidating and confusing criminal justice system.

So, when I joined Victim Support Scotland as a trustee in 2019, the focus on recognising how the effects of the crime are personal and wide-ranging for different people really resonated. The clear, values driven approach is present whenever I talk to staff and volunteers. They talk with commitment and compassion about the support needed to provide bespoke support to each person’s unique circumstances.

As I got to know the organisation, it was heartening to witness the tireless effort to place victims’ experiences at the heart of criminal justice. I met staff who explained the importance and impact of supporting witnesses in court and who defined success by the difference that Victim Support Scotland’s support makes to people after crime.

I have truly witnessed how Victim Support Scotland goes the extra mile to support people to empower themselves after a crime.

Our future direction

In the last few months, focus has been on the development of our new five-year strategy. It’s been a genuinely inclusive process with a Strategy Development Group leading the project, including people from across the organisation, as well as people, partners and services affected by our work and mission.

Meeting staff and volunteers from across Victim Support Scotland has been nothing short of inspirational. Our workforce’s dedication and experience are essential to offering a truly personalised response to those affected by crime.

Staff, volunteers and the people we support are the cornerstone of our new strategy providing a strong foundation for our objectives over the next five years. This includes a clear statement of ambition that places victims, witnesses and their families at the heart of justice in Scotland.

Our strategy reflects the developing challenges we face now and in the future. The overall reduction of violent crime in Scotland belies unmet need: 60% of crime isn’t even reported. Crime is evolving. Cybercrime methods change daily, while hate crime and domestic abuse rates climb. Our support must be both dynamic and responsive as we gain more insight into changing crimes and the impact on victims and witnesses.

More than that, the dedication to improvement and learning is tangible. Last year saw Victim Support Scotland pivot to remote working. Part of this has been about the workforce embracing new digital platforms to continue delivering our vital services successfully.

There is a palpable enthusiasm for the continued development of trauma informed practice. Using this framework helps people feel physically and emotionally safe in a trustworthy environment, where they can get the help they need, something that is especially important at a time of great vulnerability.


We are determined to connect with people wherever they are across the country, so we can provide help right when it is needed. It is about being inclusive and accessible, centring engagement and compassion, and being led by people’s needs and experiences.

Our strategy makes clear that Victim Support Scotland’s work is founded on core principles and aims for nothing less than transformation, collaborating with people and partners to make this happen.

It is a real privilege to be a trustee. I have learned enormously and hopefully contributed too. It’s hugely motivating to be a part of an organisation that is focused on not only ensuring people get the right help to move forward in life, but also supporting people to drive change directly.

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