Volunteers needed to help victim services program

NANAIMO – RCMP Victim Services calling for volunteers during National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

RCMP Victim Services of Nanaimo sees National Victims of Crime Awareness Week and National Volunteer Week (April 6-12) as a prime opportunity to ask people to step up and volunteer for the program.

When relaying bad news, police officers are often accompanied by an RCMP Victim Services volunteer, trained to offer emotional support and comfort to the grieving family. Police officers will have to leave to carry on with their investigations, while the Victim Services worker remains with the family, opening a relationship that can last for days, months or years depending on the circumstances of the incident.

During the past year, Nanaimo RCMP Victim Services gave more than 4,000 hours of support to victims of crime and trauma, providing services that include emotional support, police and hospital-requested crisis response, information on the status of police investigations, court support and orientation for witnesses required to testify. They also provide information on how the court system works, help complete crime victim assistance compensation forms, victim impact statements and referrals to appropriate agencies. The services are carried out in confidence and are free of charge.

Cheryl Zapotichny, Nanaimo program manager, said volunteering for the service starts with an orientation session.

“We put that out there, have people come and tell them what it’s like to be a volunteer with Victim Services – what they’re getting into,” Zapotichny said. “If they wish to continue, they complete an application, they have an interview and then if they’re good to go they start the security clearance and then we start the training.”

Zapotichny said the organization hopes to host an orientation session before the end of April. Applicants who pass security clearances, which can take several months, will start training by the end of August and be working with the program in November.

The organization is currently looking for about six more volunteers. For more information, please call 250-755-3146.