Victims and Survivors Service Celebrates Success of £15 million Project to Support Victims and Survivors
The Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) celebrated the success of a £15 million project to improve the health and wellbeing of victims and survivors, on Tuesday 21 February, at the Titanic Hotel, Belfast.
The project which began in 2017, was supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, with the aim of supporting marginalised individuals and communities impacted by the Troubles/conflict.
Over the course of the project, the VSS, in partnership with a range of community and voluntary sector organisations, established a network of 26 Health and Wellbeing Caseworkers across Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Great Britain, with over 11,000 victims and survivors receiving health and wellbeing support, as well as a network of 27 Advocacy Support staff enabling over 4,000 victims and survivors to engage in Legacy processes.
Victims and survivors have also had the opportunity to engage in activities which sought to rebuild the social connections that were so negatively impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.
The project has also successfully provided training for over 900 individuals across 252 courses, working to improve the quality of services for victims and survivors.
The project’s funding allowed for important research to be undertaken, including reviews of both trauma and advocacy services, as well as research on the impact of conflict legacy across generations.
Notable achievements of the project identified by the VSS include improved mental health and social networks, renewed trust within communities and an overall improvement in quality of life for many victims and survivors.
Denis McMahon, Permanent Secretary of The Executive Office which supports victims and survivors through the VSS, said:
“The Executive Office is committed to raising awareness of and co-ordinating activity on issues affecting victims and survivors. With the Victims and Survivors Service and the Commission for Victims and Survivors, we work towards putting the right arrangements in place to ensure trauma informed and victim centred services are available to empower and support victims and survivors and improve their health and wellbeing. That is why I am so pleased to be able to celebrate the successes of the Peace IV projects delivered by VSS and its partners. It has been a privilege to hear about the many ways in which the various
aspects of this project have improved the lives of victims and survivors, and TEO will continue to support this important work through our partnership with VSS.”
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, commented
“I am delighted to see that the Victims & Survivors Service (VSS) have successfully delivered a project that has improved the health and wellbeing of the many victims and survivors and in particular those hard to reach and marginalised individuals and communities that have suffered as a result of conflict.
The high-quality practical support, the positive relationships and independence that was built, as well as the trauma focused courses that were delivered, have provided participants with the tools and resources to live a much-improved quality of life.
I am delighted that my Department was able to provide match funding and support for the delivery of this very significant project. I want to congratulate the programme implementers, the project partners, the advisory partners, and all of the participants. I am sure the benefits of the tailored one-to-one supports and advice provided to participants under this project and the research undertaken, will provide policymakers, academics, and practitioners with the opportunity to engage and learn from project participants and in the development of further supports.
I am confident that the Victims and Survivors Service will continue their excellent work under the new PEACE Plus Programme that will further improve the health and wellbeing of those who have suffered as a result of the conflict and contribute to ongoing peace and reconciliation for generations to come.”
Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Special EU Programmes Body, added:
“The shared history of our region has unfortunately left a legacy of trauma for many of our citizens.
The Victims & Survivors theme of the EU-funded Peace IV Programme was implemented to support individuals and families to address long term issues that have held them back. This theme has provided expertise and care in health and well-being services for participants. It is extraordinary, that some of the citizens assisted have only been able to recognise now , several decades later, that they have unknowingly been suffering from trauma for many years.
The project has faced significant challenges over its duration which is understandable given the sensitivity of the issues addressed and the circumstances of the last few years, however the research undertaken in the project will carry on improving the quality of life of for many in the years ahead. I would like to congratulate the Victims & Survivors Service for all that has been achieved over the life of the project.”
Andrew Walker, Interim Chief Executive of the VSS, said:
“The victims and survivors who we support have diverse and often complex needs, so this funding has allowed us to address each individual’s needs appropriately with bespoke needs-based support.”
“The encouraging testimonials and positive feedback from many individuals who have benefitted from the health and wellbeing and advocacy support through this project, points to the professionalism of all those providing support, and to their compassion and dedication.”
“We are so pleased with the success of this invaluable project under the European Union’s PEACE IV programme. It is one that has been crucial in improving the lives of many victims and survivors of our troubled past."