The Ministry of Justice has renewed its funding of Brake's support services for road crash victims until March 2016.
The renewed funding recognises the vital importance of these services, which have experienced an increase in demand, particularly since reviewed police guidance in October spurred increased police referrals to Brake's helpline.
Brake provides UK-wide support to people bereaved and seriously injured by road crashes, with funding from the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales, Scottish Government in Scotland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and five corporate sponsors. Brake works closely with police forces and other practitioners, aiming to ensure support is available and proactively offered to all bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims.
Brake's services include a professionally-delivered helpline (0845 603 8572) and support packs, both of which provide emotional comfort, information on wide-ranging practical matters and criminal justice system procedures, and signposting to further specialist support. The services have been developed and refined in consultation with experts and practitioners over many years to ensure they meet the acute and wide-ranging needs of those whose lives are turned upside down by road death or injury.
Funding from the Ministry of Justice's Victim and Witness General Fund allows Brake to continue providing its helpline service and support packs for bereaved victims of road crime in England and Wales. Additional support from long-running helpline sponsors Irwin Mitchell, Pannone, Lyons Davidson, Fentons, plus Digby Brown in Scotland, means the services can be offered indiscriminately to all bereaved and injured road crash victims, regardless of whether or not a crime has taken place.
Brake's packs have been provided to bereaved families automatically by police following all road deaths for more than a decade. Revised police guidance published in 2013 (Road policing APP 3.1) recommends police should make families aware of Brake's helpline. The revised guidance and the government's new Victims' Code, which says bereaved victims of road crime should be referred to specialist support, have spurred a 10% increase in helpline calls in the first half of 2014, up to almost 900 over the six month period. The helpline supports victims and practitioners working with them, relating to about 370 cases of road death and 85 cases of serious injury each year.
Practitioners can refer to Brake's helpline by: providing details to families and explaining what the helpline can offer; providing a victim's details to the helpline, with their permission, for the helpline to call them at a suitable time; and/or contacting the helpline directly for advice on helping a family.
Louise Macrae, support service manager, said: "Brake's support services are invaluable to people who have suffered the trauma of a sudden and violent road crash bereavement or serious injury. These events can leave people in an isolated, bewildering situation, for which specialist, professional support is an essential lifeline for dealing with both emotions and practicalities. Our support packs and helpline, delivered in partnership with police and other practitioners, provide critical, complementary emotional support and practical information and assistance, to an increasing number of families. Thanks to ongoing government funding and our sponsors, we can continue to work with police and other partners to offer these essential specialist services to any bereaved or seriously injured road crash victim in need of comfort, help and guidance."