Increased demand for victim services, volunteers needed
Ranchlands Victim Services, the only 24-hour crisis unit in Alberta, is looking for volunteers who can devote time to assisting victims of crime and tragedy with their short-term needs.
In partnership with the RCMP and additional co-partners, RVS provides victims with emotional support, practical assistance and referrals to community resources for continued support.
According to Shelly-Anne Dennis, executive program manager, the organization has recently experienced increased demand for their services, requiring more volunteers to provide victims with support.
“We’re seeing more cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, which means a greater need for our services,” she says.
Volunteers typically go out to crisis calls and may provide court support, accompaniment, transportation and other means of assisting victims.
Supporting the communities of Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass, Fort Macleod, Claresholm and Piikani Nation, RVS emphasizes the provision of a co-ordinated, skilled and efficient response to victims of traumatic events.
“Being able to administer trauma support to victims of crime and tragedy in our community is a very crucial and beneficial service,” Dennis says.
The RCMP often rely on RVS staff and volunteers to provide support to victims and their families, while they focus on potential offenders, particularly in cases of criminal activity.
Part of the struggle to find volunteers comes with the rigorous background check that each potential volunteer or staff member of RVS has to go through to be accepted.
“You have to pass an enhanced security clearance, which is the same clearance as an RCMP officer, so it’s a very strict background check,” Dennis says
Employees and volunteers of RVS have a level of security clearance that exposes them to police files that they must keep confidential. A thorough background check is crucial in ensuring someone is suited to sign on.
These background checks are meant not only to look for criminal history, but also to look for anything that could affect work credibility or re-traumatize someone who was once a victim themself.
This could include a recent history of domestic violence, assault or financial stressors.
In time, Dennis hopes RVS can get more volunteers to maintain a full unit to service and support our communities.
“I’m pretty passionate about this job — it isn’t just a job to me. I love helping people and the work I do to help said people,” she says.
“We hope that our work decreases the amount of trauma that people have to go through and that eventually, with the proper help, they could move back into a normal lifestyle sooner.”
If you wish to become a volunteer with RVS, the advocate application is available online at ranchlandsvictimservices.com.