Families who have suffered a bereavement or serious injury due to a collision on the roads are now receiving increased support, thanks to Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe’s Road Safety Fund.
A pilot project with Brake, the road safety charity, is providing the county with a dedicated Independent Road Victim Advocate (IRVA), to provide expert, one-to-one support to people living within Warwickshire who have been seriously affected by a road collision.
People may be referred to the IRVA by a Family Liaison Officer from Warwickshire Police, who will give them a Brake information pack about the wide range of support available. They can also self-refer themselves via Brake’s National Road Victim Service helpline 0808 8000 401.
The IRVA role is not to investigate the collision or collate information, but to work in partnership with the Family Liaison Officer to provide the wrap-around emotional and practical support required to look after the individual’s wellbeing.
As well as offering a safe environment to discuss how injured victims or their families are feeling and look at ways to access help and support in a confidential manner either in person or on the phone, the IRVA’s role is to help people cope better with emotional and physical symptoms such as accessing help through their GP, sourcing specific support services and providing a structured support and care plan.
The IRVA will also help with the many practical and legal challenges that are difficult following a bereavement, such as funeral arrangements, financial concerns or sourcing community support for everyday ongoing needs.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “While there has been good progress in road safety in Warwickshire, incidents on our roads are still the leading cause of death and serious injury that the police deal with. For every victim in Warwickshire many more people will be affected, including friends, family and loved ones.
“I’m therefore pleased to be working with Brake to offer this pilot in Warwickshire, which is helping ensure bereaved families understand and receive the support that is available to them as they negotiate the extremely traumatic period following losing someone in a collision.
“The project has been very well received by all those it has worked with so far and it’s great to be able to lead the way nationally. My office will be working with Brake to evaluate this pilot over the coming months to see how we can move towards a permanent solution in future.”
Gary Harker, Independent Road Victim Advocate for Warwickshire, said: “My role, as the IRVA in Warwickshire, is to pilot a project aimed at endorsing how important, and effective, local support is for road crash victims. If the pilot is proved to be a success, we hope to roll it out countrywide. I’m proud to be part of this pilot in Warwickshire, which is leading the way in providing support to road crash victims.”
Inspector Mick Huntley, who leads the Serious Collision Investigation Unit at Warwickshire Police said: “Our Family Liaison Officers provide great support but the IRVA can take it a step further to enhance the support available to those immediately affected by a fatal or serious road traffic collision in Warwickshire.
“As Warwickshire’s IRVA, Gary is not new to supporting people through trauma, having come to the role with 30 years’ experience as a police officer, including 18 years within a Road Policing environment, where he was actively involved in collision investigation and worked as a Family Liaison Officer.”
The IRVA works in partnership with Brake’s free confidential National Road Victim Service helpline 0808 8000 401 offering a confidential, specialist service for those bereaved or seriously injured in a road collision, or who are supporting a road collision victim.
About Brake, the road safety charity
Brake is a charity that operates internationally from its bases in the UK and New Zealand. It was established in 1995. It coordinates Road Safety Week, provides support services for people bereaved and injured in road crashes and the professionals who care for them, including the emergency services.
Find out more at www.brake.org.uk