Running in support of victims of crime

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03 Jun Running in support of victims of crime

From Malta Today, 30 May 2016
Original article available at:http://bit.ly/287ZJOv

Victim Support Malta (VSM), the NGO supporting victims of crime in Malta, is thrilled with the outcome of its recent Zaar crowdfunding campaign. VSM managed to raise €840, achieving well over its target of €500. As an independent NGO, which does not rely on any on-going and stable sources of funding, VSM often struggles to fund its generic service and the day-to-day running of its activities.

The Zaar.com.mt crowdfunding campaign – the first in VSM’s history – was launched in the lead-up to the Gozo Half Marathon. Running in support of VSM on 24 April was staff member and sports enthusiast Isotta Rossoni. “I had toyed with the idea of running a half marathon before, but had never got around to doing it,” she says. “The Gozo Half Marathon was a good opportunity to challenge myself, whilst raising funds for an organisation that rovides a much-needed service for crime survivors in Malta.”
VSM has recently vacated its premises and relocated to a new and more spacious office that is better suited to its growing client pool. All of the money raised will go towards creating a space where victims can feel welcome and safe.

Among the services offered by the NGO are free and confidential counselling sessions. As research shows, the aesthetics of the therapeutic environment have a non-negligible impact on clients’ mood and emotions, and may affect the extent to which they open up, the information they disclose, and the benefits they derive from the session.

All of these considerations apply, in particular, to people who have experienced crime, and are thus considerably more vulnerable than the general population. In the past, VSM counsellors met with their clients in a boardroom; now, a well-lit, welcoming, soundproofed counselling room will be created, where victims can feel at ease and safe.

‘Victim Support Malta does not have a budget to fund such initiatives, and therefore we had to resort to crowdfunding. Since this was the first time we have done something of the sort, we set a modest target of €500. This was exceeded thanks to donors’ generosity. Through this initiative, we are one step closer towards providing victims with the level of service and support they deserve,” said Dr Roberta Lepre, Director of Victim Support Malta.

VSM sees approximately 100 clients a year, 30-40 of whom are victims of sexual assault. Some seek information on legal procedures or on their rights as victims. Others have had negative experiences in their interaction with the police and/or criminal justice officials, have lost faith in their ability to support them, and reach out to VSM for help and practical assistance. Most clients have been deeply scarred, and carry emotional and psychological traumas that affect their daily lives and those of the people around them. The emotional support offered by VSM is essential in helping them get back on their feet.

Victim Support Malta is incredibly grateful to all those who donated. Donations contribute to ensuring that VSM keeps running its services and supporting victims of crime.
For more information on Victim Support Malta, go to : www.victimsupport.org.mt or like Victim Support Malta on Facebook.

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