SURREY — Even though Victims Services turns 30 this year, many people don't know the full scope of services offered by it.
Mark Elson, intervention programs manager for the City of Surrey, said they do far more than respond to traumatic incidents where they're called in by the attending police officer.
"There's a whole other side of that too, like when it goes to the court criminal system, we do court accompaniment and we update people with their file status, provide people with referrals to other agencies if they need them, and (in cases of) domestic violence, arrange for shelters, things like that," Elson said.
Victims Services has always covered this gamut in Surrey, and includes youth intervention and restorative justice.
"When we started 30 years ago, we had two paid staff members and it was actually a unit comprised of the volunteers that would come in and do the case workload," said Elson. "About 12 years ago that changed and we no longer have volunteers, but we have a full complement - we have seven full-time caseworkers that respond to calls, provide service 21 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m."
Elson started out as a volunteer caseworker about 20 years ago, and was an on-call firefighter for the City of Surrey for nine years as well as an auxiliary constable with the Surrey RCMP for the last 13 years.
In spite of the fact his staff is called to deal with people's trauma, Elson said he is impressed with how resilient they are.
"They truly are an amazing group of people. I'll go out on call even now with them know and they'll come back and they will do a debrief themselves and amongst themselves," he said.
"Actually, they'll do that on every single call and I really see now the importance of that. I will be thinking about a call the next day and they've just kind of moved on."
Part of it too might be down to the type of people who take up this kind of work.
"I think there's two things. I think there's people who've received help in the past from different agencies, such as victims services, and they realize how much it helped them and they want to be part of that and to give back. I think that's a big part of it," he said.
"And I think the other part of it is certain people's nature to want to help people. It's very unique way of helping people."
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