Victim Empowerment Programme
We manage 17 trauma centres attached to as many police stations. A trauma centre is a room in a police station allocated to victim support and manned by volunteer victim supporters. Victim supporters work alongside a SAPS coordinator (a policeman or woman allocated to victim support)
Geographically, this programme covers a vast area. Our trauma centres serve the same geographic area as the police station to which it is attached. The stations/areas in our programme are:
1. The whole of Soweto: Meadowlands, Diepkloof, Kliptown, Orlando, Dobsonville, Protea, Naledi, Jabulani and Moroka.
2. The whole of Lenasia: Lenasia and Lenasia South
3. The JHB Inner City: Jeppe, Hillbrow, Yeoville and Brixton
4. Suburbs: Norwood and Fairlands.
We have introduced the LifeLine skill in support and debriefing so that our supporters never feel that they are alone with a problem. We have a project manager, a social worker and 2 auxiliary social workers supporting the project.
What a Victim Supporter does
Victim Supporters receive victims at the trauma centre and provide crisis intervention. In other words, victims of trauma or social crime and problems report to the trauma centre to talk the matter through with a victim supporter. The victim supporter is trained to calm the victim down if need be and to help the victim decide on his or her options.
Fifteen of our Trauma Centres located in Soweto, Lenasia and the Inner City of Johannesburg, are used in the community as the first port of call for individuals and families when experiencing a problem of any kind. This is because residents in these areas do not have the funds to access private, specialized help. Also, the police station in each area can usually be accessed by residents without incurring transport costs.
More specifically, the victim supporter assists rape victims in the immediate aftermath of a rape, family members of murder victims, victims of hi-jacking and all manner of violent crimes. A further important function is to recognize trauma in children and to recommend the appropriate intervention. In other words, an unruly teenager that’s brought to the police station is generally a traumatized teenager that is acting out his/her trauma – not a naughty child that needs punishment. Our victim supporters also deal with child abuse and assist the SAPS with the removal of children to places of safety when needs be. This includes cases of child trafficking. A key issue that victim supporters work with is domestic violence. The list of issues goes on and on- drug abuse, mental illness, family disputes over property and so forth. In the end, any matter that an individual or family feel upset about is likely to end up at the Trauma Centre.
On average, our Trauma Centres assist and support up to a thousand victims a month.
Who is a victim supporter?
We have 69 victim supporters in our programme. Our victim supporters are mainly women and generally unemployed. Their ages vary from twenty-something to seventy-something. They volunteered at the Trauma Centre in their area, mainly because they are driven by a desire to serve their community. They saw a need in their area and decided to do something about it – as opposed to ‘sitting at home and doing nothing’.
Victim Supporters, although not required to work long hours, often go the extra mile. They ensure that the Trauma Centres are open during office hours and work on a call-out basis over-night.
The programme is a step towards job creation. Victim supporters earn a stipend per month since April 2011. This is when LifeLine Johannesburg got involved and was successful in obtaining funding for stipends from the Gauteng Department of Social Development. By finally earning money for the first time for work done, this programme is in essence a job creation and up skilling programme for our victim supporters.
Training of Victim Supporters
LifeLine Johannesburg has been involved in this project since April 2011 and we have already done training on the following:
· Child abuse
· The Child Care Act.
· The Substance Abuse Act.
· The Mental Health Care Act.
· Trauma in teenagers
· Working with domestic violence and couples
· Anger and assertiveness
· Ethics: professional conduct, boundaries and high standards. This is based on an Ethics Code that has specifically been developed for the Victim Support Programme by LifeLine Johannesburg. Ethics is always emphasized
For news about the project or to make a donation towards it:
LifeLine Jhb Victim Empowerment Programme Coordinator