Yvonne’s volunteering story

7 June, 2023

Yvonne was affected by crime and decided to use her personal experience to help support others going through something similar.

“Being there for someone affected by crime emotionally and practically is one of the most gratifying things I have ever done.”

Yvonne, volunteer

“I am a volunteer support worker in the community and court settings. I was actually a victim myself, and always felt like something was missing in my life.

“My children had all grown up and I felt like it was a good time to give help and support to others. I felt through my own experience I could really help to support people affected by crime.

“I attend two or three days a week for volunteering. It is really varied, and one day I could be working in the community where I contact service users and offer support, we can also court familiarisation visits and special measures that are put in place prior to attending court.

“When in court I am part of the court-based support service which provide service users and general victims with court procedures, before going into the court. We basically offer the support such as back door entry, and special measures for children and vulnerable witnesses. We also liaise with the Procurator Fiscal regarding individual cases.

“One of the most interesting parts about volunteering is the court familiarisation visits. We speak with the service user and offer them the opportunity to view the court ahead of the date they will be giving evidence. To make sure they feel as comfortable as possible, giving evidence can be a hugely daunting experience.

“Being a victim of crime myself, and through my understanding of that, I have empathy and compassion to those who are going through something similar. I know exactly what it is like and how anyone may feel after being affected by crime. Offering my skills and being there for others feels like a very important role for me to do given my own life experience.

“I absolutely love volunteering. I am extremely passionate about supporting others who have been affected by crime. I love the versatility of working within both the community and the court settings. It is such a rewarding job, and I feel like I make a difference when a service user approaches me and says they now feel reassured. It just makes so much of a difference to people affected by crime who may be anxious, to just offer an ear and listen to how they are feeling. It can make a huge difference to their lives on a daily basis.

“One of my most rewarding moments was working in the community when I contacted a service user in regards to organising a court visit ahead of giving evidence. Two weeks later I was working within the court setting, and the service user actually recognised my voice and actually approached me and asked if I could go into court with her. We did have special measures set up in place, so I was able to be there for her. After the trial I gave her a follow up call, and she did inform me that she was happy and felt very at ease due to the support that I had been able to give her.

“If you are thinking about volunteering, definitely do it! Even a few hours a day to give your time to support something can make such a difference. Being a volunteer is not only rewarding, but also very informative. You’re not only supporting people affected by crime, but training extensively to learn how to cope with other people’s trauma. You also learn a lot about the criminal justice system which is extremely interesting. Anyone who volunteers with VSS learns a number of new skills, and will get to liaise with many different agencies such as COPFS, Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service.

“Being there for someone affected by crime emotionally and practically is one of the most gratifying things I have ever done.”