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Volunteers hail new family support service

Coroner's service launch event

Photo includes PCC Ron Hogg (centre) with HM Senior Coroner Mr Tweddle, Coroner's office staff, Victim Support staff and volunteers

Volunteers hail new family support service

An innovative new project funded by Durham's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) was hailed as 'a fabulous and invaluable initiative' at the project's launch event this week.

PCC Ron Hogg visited the Coroner’s Court on Thursday (4th) to hear first-hand from the volunteers about their experiences during the project.

The Coroner’s Support Service for County Durham and Darlington helps bereaved families cope with inquests and is one of the first in the country to provide critical support for families during hearings into the last hours of their loved ones lives.

Experienced and highly trained volunteers from the charity Victim Support help bereaved and distressed family members and witnesses cope with the formality of proceedings. The pilot scheme, which has helped over 100 local people in the first month of its inception, was instigated after a gap in support was identified by PCC Ron Hogg following the lack of support provided to a family of a person who had died in custody. He said:

"This is an excellent scheme which has been very well received and I am delighted that so many people are now getting the support they need. Volunteers provide an important service to families and witnesses in an unfamiliar and formal setting which can be very daunting at such a difficult time in peoples' lives."

Ron asked the volunteers what motivated them to get involved. One volunteer mentioned she has put herself in a witness' shoes and going through the process which can be a very scary thing and therefore likes to do her bit to help others. Another volunteer marked the scheme as a fabulous initiative to help local people.

Cath Davison, Service Delivery Manager from Victim Support said: "The volunteers are given extensive training and are giving witnesses fabulous support, when they need it the most; it is an invaluable service.”

HM Senior Coroner for County Durham and Darlington, Mr Tweddle, says: “This is an outstanding project that I fully support”.

- ENDS

Follow PCC Ron Hogg on Twitter: @RonaldHogg1, or for organisation updates: @DurhamPCC.

Posted on Friday 5th September 2014
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