Support Volunteer Witness Service
Victim Support NI
About the Volunteer Opportunity
Emotional and Practical Support Volunteer Witness Service
To give free and confidential support and information to help witnesses and their supporters (such as family and friends) deal with the experience of attending court to give evidence. Activities include:
- Meeting and greeting witnesses on arrival.
- Providing information about the court procedure and layout.
- Showing people around a courtroom ahead of a trial so that they are familiar with the environment (we call this a pre-trial visit).
- Listening to and empathising with the concerns and anxieties that witnesses have.
- Helping witnesses to prepare for possible verdicts and sentences in their case.
- Accompanying witnesses into court if requested.
- Explaining any legal jargon or decisions.
- Referring witnesses to the local Community Service office or other agencies as appropriate.
- Working as part of a team and keeping the local Witness Service Co-Ordinator up-to-date on developments.
- Liaising with other court staff as required.
- Providing additional support when special measures are requested.
As well as these daily activities, volunteers will be required to attend regular supervision and team meetings as part of the role.
What is the time commitment?
We need volunteers to commit to be available for a minimum of 9.30am to 4.00pm one day per week (weekdays only).
You will also be expected to attend ongoing training and meetings.
You should be able to commit at least 1 year to volunteering.
Induction and Training
Victim Support NI provides full induction and training for our volunteer roles. Our initial training, which we call Core Learning, is accredited at level 3 with the Open College Network. You can receive accreditation by completing post training learning journals and delivering a minimum of 5 support sessions in court, with an assessment of your support skills at the end of your trial period. Accreditation is optional and there is no cost to you for receiving the OCN qualification.
On completion of your trial period (see below) you will be asked to attend suicide intervention training. This is compulsory training and is carried out over 2 consecutive days, normally on week days but may be arranged at weekends on occasion.
As well as this compulsory training we offer ongoing optional training courses for volunteers and you will complete a skills audit with your Coordinator to identify any training areas that may be applicable.
We also provide ongoing training through volunteer supervision and team meetings.
On completion of Core Learning you will begin a trial period in your local office, where you will have the chance to shadow staff and experienced volunteers while they support clients. You will then start to lead support sessions while being shadowed by a volunteer or staff member, who will support and feedback to you to help you become confident in the role. You must complete a minimum of 5 supervised support sessions and you will then be assessed on your support skills by our Learning & Development team. You must demonstrate the required skillset in order to be confirmed in the volunteer role at the end of the trial period.
Witness Service Co-Ordinators will support volunteers through regular supervision and volunteer team meetings. These are primarily to offer you support in managing this challenging volunteer role and to discuss in confidence any concerns or issues you or we may have.
Volunteers will be reimbursed for any reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred while training and volunteering, usually on a monthly basis.
All Witness Service volunteers will be required to undergo Access NI disclosure checks and Court clearance checks. Victim Support NI will pay the cost for obtaining these checks.
In order to be considered for this volunteer role you must be able to demonstrate how you meet the following criteria. This will be assessed at interview and throughout training and your trial period.
Final selection of volunteers is only made on completion of a trial period, during which the below criteria will continue to be assessed.
- Commitment to undertake the full Core Learning training course and all essential training to be able to carry out the volunteer role.
- Ability to work as part of a team – support your fellow volunteers, attend and contribute to team meetings, work together to ensure all victims and witnesses are supported.
- Good timekeeping and reliability – committing a minimum of 1 day per week to volunteering activities, arriving in good time and giving advanced notice where you can’t attend.
- Ability to work independently and use own initiative within Witness Service guidance and boundaries.
- Willingness and ability to work within a framework of Equal Opportunities – supporting all clients regardless of background and with a non-judgmental approach.
- Ability to treat all company and client information in the strictest confidence.
- Excellent communication skills in English, with the ability to adapt communication styles to suit a wide range of people from varying backgrounds.
- Ability to adhere to Victim Support NI’s policies and procedures
- Good literacy skills (English language) – to enable completion of paperwork to record meetings.
- Experience with supporting other people in a mature and caring way – this may be in a work, voluntary or personal setting.
- Ability to separate your own and your clients’ experiences and maintain professionalism in all situations.
- Disclosure of any criminal record held – Access NI and Court clearance checks on your criminal record are required before volunteering activities can commence.
About the Organisation
Victim Support NI is an independent charity which helps people affected by crime. We offer a free and confidential service, whether or not a crime has been reported and regardless of how long ago the event took place.
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Register your interest
Volunteers may be required to complete an Access NI disclosure for some volunteering roles. A criminal record will not necessarily be a bar to obtaining a volunteer position.