14 February 2014
Brake, the road safety charity
The charity Brake has released an updated version of its acclaimed support pack for families left devastated by a death on the road in England and Wales. With funding from the Ministry of Justice, the pack has been updated so it's in line with the government's new Victims' Code, which aims to ensure bereaved crime victims get the right support and are treated with respect by criminal justice agencies.
Brake is the national provider of government-funded support literature for families who lose a loved one our roads. Its support packs are handed to bereaved families by police following every UK road death (with separate packs available following road deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland). Brake works with every police force throughout the year to ensure the packs are presented promptly and empathetically following all road deaths, as written into police protocols.
The 2013-14 packs are now being distributed to police forces throughout England and Wales.
An online version of the pack is available at www.brake.org.uk/support, and Brake's helpline (0845 603 8570) offers over-the-phone explanation of information in the packs alongside a range of other professionally-delivered support.
The revised Victims' Code, published in December 2013, recognises bereaved road crime victims as victims of serious crime with particular needs, who should be referred to appropriate support. The change has been welcomed by Brake, having long campaigned through its forgotten victims campaign for greater recognition and help from government for families who suffer the horror of a bereavement or serious injury in a crash.
Brake's support pack, 'Information and advice for bereaved families and friends following death on the road in England and Wales', is a comprehensive resource offering clear, objective information that supports people through one of the most traumatic times imaginable. It is regularly reviewed in consultation with experts, practitioners and victims' feedback.
Having has a loved one suddenly and violently killed, many people will not know where to turn. Brake's pack offers emotional comfort and practical information on matters such as arranging a funeral, the police investigation and criminal proceedings.
Louise Macrae, support service manager, said: "Brake's bereavement packs are a key part of the vital support we provide. For many, in an isolated, bewildering situation, being presented the pack is a signal that they are not alone, that someone cares, and that specialist support is available. It is often referred in feedback from families as a life-line they can turn to again and again. It is often essential in helping a family through horrendous pain and complex procedures, to find hope for the future and a 'new normal'.
"We recently welcomed improvements in the government's Victims' Code, which makes clear all bereaved crime victims have acute support needs and are entitled to appropriate support. We look forward to continuing to build on our excellent relationship with police to ensure all devastated crash victims get the help they need. We encourage FLOs and other support professionals to familiarise themselves with our updated packs, so they can aid families in accessing the specialist information and support available."
Robin Turner, family liaison officer, Cleveland Police Roads Policing Unit, said: "Brake's bereavement pack is invaluable to family liaison officers. Although we are trained to offer advice to families, we cannot be there 24/7. We have confidence that when a family has questions at 3:00am, Brake's literature gives them the guidance that's needed, when it's needed.
"As police officers, we are given guidelines that bereavement packs are issued and explained after every road death. I didn't realise how important this was until I spoke to families in such tragic circumstances. It is only then you appreciate how important the Brake packs are and how much they are relied on. It is not uncommon for the pack to become a permanent fixture on a bedside table. One family described it as 'their bible' after a road death."
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.