Heartland Victim Services needs volunteers

Though governmental funding will continue to help Heartland Victim Services Association help those struck by tragedy, crime or crisis...

Though governmental funding will continue to help Heartland Victim Services Association help those struck by tragedy, crime or crisis, unless the organization nabs a few more volunteer advocates or board members, it may have trouble delivering those services.

Pat Hamilton, executive director for the local VSA, described the need for volunteers as “critical.”

Both board members and advocates have to undergo a criminal check for past criminal behaviour, with advocates going on to take a mix of in-person and online training to help them learn to help people during the times of crises during which the VSA is called upon to serve. Board members aren’t obligated to take the training, though some do so they can better understand the organization.

At its annual general meeting at the Stettler Hospital on Thursday, May 28, it was revealed that the provincial government had come through with funding for the VSA again this year.

However, the amount of funding isn’t entirely enough to cover the expenses run by the volunteer group, Hamilton said, which means the VSA will be dreaming up some fundraisers for later this year.

Though VSAs across the province work closely with local police agencies, at times even being housed inside detachments, they are a non-police agency. The police – just like hospitals and fire departments, to name a few – can call on VSA advocates to join their officers while making a death notification or delivering other unfortunate news.

Advocates also attend provincial court so the victims do not have to, keeping them up to date on the legal process. They help file restitution requests and find access to counselling services as needed.

People interested in finding out more about Heartland VSA can contact Pat Hamilton at the RCMP detachment by phone at 403-742-3382.