Spotlight shines on charity helping people to cope in the aftermath of a road tragedy
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Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston has praised a vital counselling service he supports helping people to recover from grief and trauma following a road tragedy.
As National Road Victim Month progresses, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough PCC shines a spotlight on the work of the Road Victims Trust (RVT) – a charity dedicated to supporting people impacted by grief or trauma following a road death, serious injury or life-changing collision.
The service, which receives annual funding from the PCC, offers emotional and practical help alongside a special counselling service to people across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.
Support is provided confidentially and free of charge for however long it is needed. The service helps individuals make sense of and cope with the rollercoaster of emotions and anguish that follow a road death or serious injury collision and supports both bereaved loved-ones, families, witnesses and those involved in the collision itself.
During 2021-22, the RVT provided counselling and support to 171 people; of these 87% were referred directly by the police and around 288 were provided with longer-term support. Around 9,000 hours were volunteered by the Trust including over 1,176 hours of specialist counselling by just 55 professional counsellors who volunteer their time.
Among the many supported over the years is the family of Claire Danks, from Soham, whose daughter Lauren was killed in 2016 when her car was hit by a drink driver at speeds of more than 100mph. The driver, who failed to stop after the collision, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Claire is now an ambassador for the RVT.
“We often referred to being in a fog - a confusion of madness - which we were assured was a normal part of shock and grief,” she said.
“Not knowing how to continue, the RVT have been a huge part in helping us as a family at the worst time. They have given us the tools to help rebuild a new life for our family together. I do believe this would not have been possible to do without the support from our counsellor.”
The PCC supports the RVT as part of his Police and Crime Plan commitment to ensure victims and witnesses of crime receive the expert help and resources they need to rebuild their lives.
Darryl said: “It is impossible to imagine the turmoil and anguish that accompanies a road death. The RVT’s experienced and professional councillors offer hope and light at the end of a very long tunnel. The weight of this support and understanding cannot be underestimated.
“Victims and witnesses do not have to cope with the impact of crime alone. As Commissioner, I am immensely proud of the services I commission to support victims of all crimes from sexual violence and burglary to modern slavery and road traffic collisions. Protecting the mental health of victims and witnesses of crime will continue to remain a strong focus of my work throughout my term as PCC.”
Mark Turner, Chief Executive of Road Victims Trust said, added: “It is a shocking fact that five people will be killed on the roads of the UK each day, with numerous more left with life-changing injuries. The Road Victims Trust are proud to work together with the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Vision Zero Partnership to bring the voice of the victims and their families to decision-makers. We are grateful for the support and friendship.”
The RVT works on a one-to-one basis with clients, providing regular counselling for as long as it is useful. It also offers case management support and practical help over the phone for people who do not take up the offer of counselling. This could include signposting to other services or providing practical information from the police or coroner’s office. Additionally, the charity can offer court support for clients going through the criminal justice or inquest process.
National Road Victim Month is held annually in August to remember people who have been killed or injured on our roads. It also offers an opportunity to promote safety awareness and remind motorists of their responsibilities behind the wheel.
Nick Southern, Casualty Reduction Officer said:
“Every fatal and serious collision sends shockwaves of devastation across all those around it, leaving a trial of destruction for everyone else. It effects the officers and emergency workers that are first on scene to deal with the horrific and upsetting scenes, to the victim’s family being told by the police that their loved one won’t be coming home. This will go on to affect their friends, colleagues, pupils and sometimes strangers that simply witness the collision that will forever be changed by that one incident.
“Here in Cambridgeshire, every fatal or serious injury collision is investigated robustly with action taken against those that are found to be neglectful and breaking the law. The most important factor in bringing an end to these collisions is you, the public. If you suspect or know of someone that regularly drink or drug drives, you can report this anonymously via crime stoppers on Crimestoppers-uk.org or calling 0800 555 111. If you believe a person may be under the influence and they are driving or about to drive, then call the police. Remember, in an emergency always dial 999, it may just save someone’s life.”