July 14th, 2024

Volunteers needed to support victims of crime

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on September 20, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Cat Pooley, manager of the Lethbridge Police Service Victim/Witness Services, speaks to reporters on Tuesday at the police station as the unit is putting out a call for new volunteers.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Service Victim/Witness Services Unit is looking for new volunteers to ensure they can continue to provide their services to victims of crime when they need it the most.

VWSU manager Cat Pooley told reporters Tuesday it takes about 65 people to be able to run the program smoothly and it is critical for them to have enough people to do so.

“Every year, around this time of year, we do look for new recruits for victim witness services. It’s critical that we have enough people to be able to provide the support our community has come to rely on,” said Pooley.

 She said in 2022 they put in about 4,000 volunteer hours and to be able to provide that level of support VWSU needs a team of about 65 people.

 “That said, we’re looking to add somewhere between 15 and 20 volunteers to our team this year and we’re looking for people specifically that have the compassion for folks that have been victim of crime, or trauma, or tragedy in the city,” said Pooley.

 She said they look for a two-year commitment from people with about two shifts a month.

“There is a commitment level to it, but there’s a ton of opportunity to build a resource team, to learn a lot. We put you through a wide variety of training and give people the opportunity to grow into the potential of who they can be as a crisis support worker,” said Pooley.

 Tuesday also marked the re-release of a video that shows some of the experiences that people in the community are experiencing and how having the opportunity to have crisis support after an event like that is critical.

 “Navigating a system when you have been traumatized is incredibly challenging and our crisis support workers, the volunteers that we have on our team, are really well skilled. They know exactly what they can offer within the community and they’re ready to listen and provide that trauma informed support, to make sure that everyone has the potential to come out of it more empowered and more capable of healing after crime,” said Pooley.

She said they are looking for volunteers of all ages and are encouraging people of different ages and cultures to help create diversity within the team so they can learn together.

 “It’s a great opportunity to be able to make a big change in your own community by showing up, being part of our team and helping to build that diversity, so that if someone in your unique community has needs, you’re there to help build the skill set and the knowledge that we needed to be able to really provide the support that’s best for them at that moment,” said Pooley.

She said for those interested in volunteering a fairly intensive training session is held after someone gets hired.

 “This job is a unique skill set, so it’s not maybe for everyone. We want them to have a chance to want to be there and learn a little bit about it that way, but once we’ve built that team, we give very intensive training that gives you some understanding of trauma, some understanding of crisis, how to work alongside our police officers here in the city, and then an opportunity to understand the resources that we have in our community and what type of unique situations there are,” said Pooley.

While there is no specific experience required, the unit is seeking individuals who are 18-years-old or over, have a clear criminal record and a desire to provide acute crisis care to people from all walks of life who have been victims of crime, trauma or tragedy.

Applications are being accepted until Oct. 25, through a user-friendly online application form available at https://lethbridgepolice.bamboohr.com/careers/230

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