DOROTHY Dickson, 49, is acting co-ordinator of the Lisburn branch of Victim Support NI which recently relocated to new premises at the Civic Centre. She previously worked for Belfast Education and Library Board for 24 years before she took a redundancy package and went travelling in Australia. Dorothy then joined Victim Support NI three years ago.
Victim Support Northern Ireland is the charity which helps people affected by crime. It is a completely independent organisation, offering a free and confidential service, whether or not a crime has been reported.
As I live in Lisburn it doesn't take me long to get into work so I don't set my alarm until 8am. I have breakfast, get ready and take my dog Daisy for a walk. I am usually at the office by 9am. I check my emails and get everything up and running. I get calls about crime in the areas which this office deals with. As well as Lisburn we cover Lurgan, Portadown, Craigavon and Dungannon.
Victim Support NI provides help through a network of local branches across the whole of Northern Ireland. Myself and the other members of staff and volunteers offer emotional support, information and practical help to people who have suffered crimes ranging from burglary to the murder of a relative, in confidence.
We can provide information on police and court procedure; liaise with other organisations on people's behalf; give advice and information on compensation and insurance matters and organise contact with other sources of help. I receive referrals from Police departments and then contact the victim of crime to let them know about the organisation and the support we can offer them.
Depending on what they have been a victim of will reflect the type of support we are able to offer. Sometimes people need emotional support and if I feel the person needs more support than we can offer I refer them to other agencies. We are the initial agency that the victim will come in touch with. If it is a claim the process can run on for a while hut if the person requires emotional support I will refer them to the relevant agency to make sure their needs are taken care of. We use a specifically designed computer system which stores all our client details on a special database which generates a unique referral number of everyone who uses our services.
Everyone reacts differently to their experience of crime or attending court and, for some, being a victim of crime can lead to all kinds of problems. In addition to coping with the experience there are often many practical matters to attend to and if a case is investigated by the police or goes to court, worries about dealing with the procedures and processes of the criminal justice system.
As well as interacting with members of the public I also have to prepare reports to present to Victim Support NI headquarter based in Belfast. Each month I report back on statistics and referrals made in Lisburn. There is quite a bit of paper work attached to my job.
I finish around 5pm, depending on horn busy I am, and then I head home and walk the dog before making something for dinner and relaxing for the evening.
I really enjoy my work and it feels great to get good feedback. Many people who have been badly injured or suffered through no fault of their own are unaware of their legal rights and it feels good putting them or the right track.