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Support service for child victims of crime praised by parents for transforming lives

Over one thousand young people and their families have received help to recover from the trauma of crime thanks to a service funded by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Police and Crime Commissioner, Darryl Preston.

Between April and September 2022, Embrace Child Victims of Crime (CVOC) delivered 1,482 hours of trauma-informed emotional support across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Among those offered counselling were children affected by sexual abuse and young people living in homes torn apart by domestic abuse.

Darryl commissioned the charity to take over the running of the Cambridgeshire Specialist Young Victims and Witness Support Service in July as part of a contract worth £205k over three years.

It means all support for children impacted by crime can be accessed from one place – avoiding the need for victims and families to retell their stories to multiple agencies.

Darryl said: “These young people have suffered in the most harrowing of ways and it is vital they receive the emotional and practical support they need to cope with their experiences and to rebuild their lives.

“This service was designed by young people for young people which has been critical to its success. From the positive feedback we’ve received so far, I have no doubt this service will continue to change lives and give children the confidence and emotional strength necessary to move on from crime and look forward to the future.”

Among those supported by Embrace was 12-year-old Jasmine* who was referred to the service after suffering years of sexual abuse. The perpetrator was subsequently prosecuted and is serving a jail sentence.

Jasmine received weekly face-to-face counselling sessions while her parents received emotional support to help them cope with the guilt they were feeling to rebuild their family.

Jasmine’s father said: “Jasmine was anxious, depressed and suffering panic attacks and really struggled to be able to talk about what had happened. The support Embrace gave was enormously helpful.

“It was great being able to talk without being judged. We still have difficult times and I’m sure we will for a long time to come but I feel like it would have been a lot worse if it hadn’t been for the support we received from Embrace.”

The charity also provides practical support to young people aged up to 18 (or up to 24 with additional needs) and their families. Over the last six-months, Embrace has provided 87 children and families with practical and recovery support.

Between April and September 2022, Embrace supported 1,081 children, young people and their families. Almost a fifth of the emotional support and counselling delivered during this period was by specially trained volunteers, amounting to 330 hours of emotional support provided to parents in helping them better cope and support their children.

Additionally, the charity provided over 400 theme park tickets thanks to its partnership with Merlin’s Magic Wand Children’s Charity.

Anne Campbell, Chief Executive of Embrace Child Victims of Crime, said: “All survivors of crime, regardless of their age, have a right to receive the support they need to help them overcome trauma, rebuild their confidence and reach their full potential.

“Since we became the main provider of young victim and witness services in Cambridgeshire, thanks to the funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner, it has enabled us to access many more young people and their families who are struggling through no fault of their own.

“We prioritise their needs and tailor our services to give them the right support at the time they need it. We provide emotional support and counselling as well as practical support to provide essentials for those families who are struggling because of the cost of living crisis.”