Volunteers support victims of crime

    The Strathmore Regional Victim Service Society (SRVSS) volunteers work around the clock to provide support to and lessen the impact of crime on victims.
    “To help victims of crime and tragedy is what we do,” said SRVSS Program Director Sherry Hornby.
    She describes the role of victim services as lessening the impact that crimes and tragedy have on individuals.
    “Anyone can contact us anytime,” she said.
    SRVSS provides help and services for the residents in the Chestermere, Strathmore and Gleichen RCMP detachments service areas.
    Often working from referrals from the RCMP, volunteers with the non-profit society provide support and advice to anyone who is a victim of crime who wants support.
    They are commonly called out for everything from domestic violence to police notifications to helping with victim impact statements.
    “Anything that the RCMP could potentially be investigating there is the possibility that we could as well be called in,” said Hornby.
    Some of the services that SRVSS provides include emotional support for victims immediately after a crime or a death occurs, providing information on the criminal justice systems, providing updates on the police investigation and referrals to other community resources.
    While not every victim of crime is in need of SRVSS, enough people do take advantage of the service to keep the 17 volunteers and three staff members busy.
    “It is quite largely used, we find,” she said.
    There are no limits on who can use victim services and SRVSS will continue to work with clients as long as their case in under investigation or before the courts.
    “We are involved right through the entire process and that could be a year, it could be two years,” she said, “it just really depends on the situation.”
    “We follow it through to the end or until they are no longer asking for our services,” said Hornby.
    While SRVSS is well known amongst members of the RCMP, legal professions and victims of crime, SRVSS also offers services to the public, something that Hornby feels is not well known.
    “The general public might not know that we are here,” she said, “and that we are still able to assist even if it’s not involving an RCMP file.”
    “If they have questions they can always contact us,” said Hornby.
    Some of the services that SRVSS provide to the public include information about shelters and services available to people in abusive domestic situations to other general public safety information such as home security.
    “We kind of just have a variety of resources and information that we can provide for them in so many different situations,” said Hornby.
    To try and help raise awareness of all the services that SRVSS provides in the community, Hornby said that they are looking to start attending community events in the region.
    As a volunteer organization, SRVSS is always accepting new volunteer advocates.
    “We absolutely welcome them to give us a call,” said Hornby.
    In her experience, almost anyone can make a good volunteer advocate with victim services.
    “It’s not always an easy situation to be in,” said Hornby, “it definitely has its challenges when you’re working with individuals that have been affected by a tragedy.”
    People who believe in the value of SRVSS, are looking to become more involved within their community and want to help other people are often excellent fits as SRVSS volunteers.
    The variety of life experiences found in the SRVSS volunteer team is what Hornby said makes them so effective as a unit.
    Volunteers receive training through the Alberta Solicitor General, have to pass an RCMP security clearance and are given first aid, critical incidence and safety training.
    For more information, to volunteer or to refer someone go to www.strathmoreregionalvictimservices.com or call (403) 934-6552.