28 Aug Victim Support Malta blows out candles for its 10th birthday!
Original article available from: Malta Independent
Today, Victim Support Malta celebrates its 10 year anniversary.
Back in 2006, VSM was still in its embryonic stage. Initially a part of Mid Dlam Ghad Dawl, an NGO supporting prisoners and convicts, VSM was formally set up to address the needs of victims of crime, a target group which was lacking support and assistance.
A lot has changed since then. The team has grown, services have expanded and the number of clients has increased. VSM is currently composed of five employed staff members and over 10 volunteers. Its services range from the provision of emotional support, to legal information and practical assistance for victims of crime. Since 2014, VSM has been running the ‘Care for Victims of Sexual Assault’ service (previously known as SART) in cooperation with the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity. The service provides victims of sexual assault and rape with round-the-clock emergency social work intervention at hospital or police stations, free psychological support, free legal representation, cooperation with the police and hospital, and any other practical assistance, as required. In April this year, VSM launched Victim Support Online (VSO), an online service providing emotional support for victims via chat and email.
VSM is the only NGO in Malta that offers support to victims of all kinds of crime. Over the years, VSM has assisted victims of sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, theft, usury, cybercrime and others. It has also engaged in awareness-raising and advocacy, and has been involved in a variety of projects, including VS4Y (Victim Support 4 Youth), Fighting Elderly Abuse, Project VINE, Strengthening Crime Prevention between EU member states, and more recently, Together against Bullying.
VSM said in a statement, “While we look back on our journey and achievements with pride, we are also starkly aware that our organisation would have no reason to exist if crime and victimisation weren’t so widespread, and if victims were in receipt of adequate support. Although Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum safeguards, assistance and protection for victims of crime represents a welcome development in the area of victim support, there still remain numerous lacunas.
“The Directive was recently transposed into Maltese law through the Victims of Crime Act, yet victims and professionals alike still lack awareness on its content and implications. Victims continue to suffer secondary victimisation at the hands of criminal justice officials, and for this reason are often reluctant to report the crime to the police in the first place. Many of VSM’s clients have chosen not to report for fear of being misunderstood, lack of trust in the authorities, shame or other.”
In this scenario, VSM said its work appears to be necessary and valuable: “We do not know what our organisation will look like in 10 years’ time, but we hope that we will be able to continue offering a muchneeded service to all the people who approach us for help.”
For more information on Victim Support Malta or to make a donation, visit: www.victimsupport.org.mt (to make your contribution click on ‘Make a donation’ in bottom right corner); or ‘Like’ the Victim Support Malta Facebook Page