Victim Support’s Chief Executive Officer Katie Kempen reflects on the charity’s milestone anniversary.

“Victim Support has changed a lot in 50 years, but our purpose remains the same: to support and empower victims to rebuild their lives after crime and speak out for change.

This year Victim Support turns 50, a momentous milestone which I can’t wait to celebrate with our passionate and dedicated staff around the country.

The first thing that strikes me is just how many people this charity has helped in all the time it’s been around. Last year alone we offered information and support to over 750,000 people and answered more than 50,000 calls and messages to our Supportline and live chat service. I think it’s safe to say Victim Support has been a lifeline to many millions of people in times of crisis.

More than anything, though, the anniversary has led me to reflect on the mission on which we were founded; while so much has changed, the desire to support and empower victims has remained the driving force of this organisation.

In many ways, the charity we know today is unrecognisable from the grassroots organisation which started out in a living room in Bristol. Set up by a handful of volunteers, the Bristol Victim Support Scheme was launched in 1974, in an attempt to remedy the complete lack of support available to victims of crime. Gradually, the scheme was replicated across the country and here we are, five decades later.

Much has been said and written about the ever-changing nature of crime and victimisation. Recent history has brought some big steps forward in recognising and understanding gender-based violence, but we’ve also seen the advent of the digital age enable abusers and industrial-scale fraud become a very sad fact of life.

I won’t attempt to unpick this vast topic in a few hundred words, but it would be remiss not to acknowledge how much our services have evolved over the years, in response to people’s changing needs.

There are now free and accessible support services for victims of crime in every area of the country – a phenomenal feat in which, with commissioners and partners, we’ve played an important role.

Some of our own major milestones include the founding of the National Homicide Service in 2010, which made sure that anyone bereaved by murder or manslaughter has support navigating the complex criminal justice process. The terror attacks in 2017 led to our national Supportline becoming a 24/7 service, and it has remained so ever since. We’ve established services for emerging crimes, developing a bespoke offering for victims of the most serious fraud and setting up peer support groups for people who have lost money and lived through the emotional trauma of romance fraud.

What’s clear to me is that as we’ve developed and grown, the roadmap has been simple: serving the needs of victims.

So, as we move forward into our 50th year and look ahead to the future, I have my own aspirations for where we’re headed:

  • We will continue to deliver the highest quality services to those that need them.
  • We will give victims a voice and a platform to create change and reform in a deeply broken criminal justice system.
  • We will listen, adapt and improve, giving victims options and flexibility in how they access our support, reflecting the changing ways we all live our lives.

But I know that underpinning everything we do will be the values on which we were founded: a recognition of the humanity of every single victim, a commitment to putting them at the heart of all we do and an understanding that people can rebuild their lives after trauma – but they’re going to need some help along the way.”

You can find out more about the history of Victim Support on our timeline.