Why Victims Services Uses a Live Answering Service

Executive Director Julie VandenAkker on Why Victims Services of Kingston and Frontenac Uses a Live Answering Service

What is your job position with Victims Services of Kingston & Frontenac? 

I am the Executive Director at Victim Services of Kingston and Frontenac. We are funded by the Provincial MinistryVictims-Services-of-Kingston-&-Frontenac-alliance-wireless-communications of the Attorney General, we have a Board of Directors, two Staff, (myself and my Executive Assistant), and we try to keep our Volunteer Crisis Worker numbers at around 100 to cover the need for two teams on call 24/7. 

Why do you do what you do? 

I have been working with this for almost 25 years. I became involved with Victim Services out of an opportunity that arose for me that blended with my belief in the need for victims voices to be heard. For many years, Emergency Service Personnel (Police, Fire & Rescue and Paramedics), were very capable of fulfilling the respective roles that they were trained to fulfill in our communities, however their roles continued to expand according to the growing needs of the communities that they serve and they cannot possibly be everything to everyone. Victim’s rights have been increasingly recognized in Canada since 1987 and the Victim Services Programs in Ontario try to ensure that victims know that they have the right to be provided with timely, professional, appropriate and confidential support, referral and advocacy.  Having this support right from the scene of an incident through to the ongoing support available in their community provides victims with a softer place to fall and contributes to their future wellness.

What motivates you? 

People in need.  Knowing that there was a positive difference made for someone, that we were able to leave someone better able to cope with whatever had befallen them than they would have been without our presence. Most people do not anticipate how they would react or what they would do in response to a crime or tragic circumstance and although they may very well have capable coping skills in their day to day lives, in that moment, they can find themselves at a loss. It is during that time when most people have no idea where to turn, they have many questions, they need information, sometimes really need someone to just listen to what they have to share or just share silence with them, knowing that they are not alone while they process what has happened to them. Our Programs can provide this 24/7. There have also been many thank you’s, many kind words over the years and those are very uplifting. 

What are some of the challenges you face regularly at your job? 

There are a few.  Probably the most significant challenge at times is not being able to provide for the financial and/or housing needs for members of our community, especially when there are children and/or elderly involved. We do have financial assistance available with regard to some criminal matters however not for everyday expenses and there is a serious lack of affordable housing for many. The sheer numbers of Partner Abuse, Sexual Assault Occurrences and crimes against or involving children and the elderly are deeply troubling. Then of course with regard to Sudden Deaths of any nature, not being able to turn back the clock and bring a loved one back, heartbreaking most times.  In addition, the lack of time and resources to juggle Program and Community needs is always a concern for many of our Victim Services Sites across the Province. 

What were the types of challenges the organization faced before hiring an answering service? 

We have always had an Answering Service, as we are a 24/7 Program. 

How has Alliance been able to help the organization? 

Our service from Alliance Communications has always been dependable and having a Service where the staff are local assists us in problem solving whenever there is a glitch that arises.  We have been with Alliance Communications for many years, they provide us with competent service and I hope to remain with them for many years to come. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Yes, we are indeed privileged to work with caring and professional Emergency Service Personnel, Kingston Police, Ontario Provincial Police, R.C.M.P., Military Police, Kingston Fire & Rescue, Frontenac Paramedic Services and Campus Security and with many of the professional Community Agencies in our Community that work tirelessly to support those in need. 

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