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24 July 2019, 06:29 | Updated: 24 July 2019, 06:31
A new service to support families bereaved as a result of violent crime has been launched.
Established by Victim Support Scotland and backed by Scottish Government funding, the Support for Families Bereaved by Crime service is designed to help people across the country who have lost a loved one through murder or culpable homicide.
It will allow families who access the service to have a dedicated support worker who will provide assistance with immediate practical tasks such as going to court, accessing specialist services including counselling, arranging funerals, and handling media and finances.
The service is free and family members will be able to access it via a Police Scotland Family Liaison Officer and other support partners.
It was introduced in response to a need to tackle the service provision gap in Scotland, highlighted in a report to the Scottish Government in 2017 by the Moira Fund, whose founder is Bea Jones - the mother of Moira Jones, who was murdered in Queens Park in Glasgow in 2008.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "We want to ensure that victims' interests are at the heart of our criminal justice system and that it is fair, accessible and efficient for all.
"We listened when victims' families told us that they had faced difficulties in accessing the support that was available to them and that is why we have provided £1.2 million funding to Victim Support Scotland to deliver this free and confidential new service.
"It will ensure that all families affected by homicide have a dedicated case worker to provide support and information at every stage of the criminal justice process, helping to reduce distress and the potential for retraumatisation."
Ms Jones said: "I am very pleased to be here for the launch of the new service which is now up and running - pleased for the sake of those heart-broken, traumatised, Scottish families who need it now and those who will need it in the future.
"It has been a privilege for The Moira Fund to work alongside the Scottish Government, Victim Support Scotland, the Crown Office and Police Scotland to establish this service and ensure that every aspect of necessary support has been covered.
"Strong links are in place to ensure a streamlined system of help is available to desperate families who need much support and will surely benefit from feeling cared for at the very worst time of their lives."
Kate Wallace, of Victim Support Scotland, said that involving those who have lived through traumatic experiences have been critical in developing the service.
She said: "I am pleased we have reached this point in the journey of delivering this much-needed service to families across Scotland.
"What's been critical in the development phase is involving people like Bea, and others, who have lived through difficult and traumatic experiences. This has allowed us to understand their experiences and ultimately helped us to start the process of shaping better services for the future."