Government funding renewed as demand for Brake’s support services for devastated road crash victims rises

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Brake, the road safety charity 

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 acclaimed 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. They can also refer to Brake's support literature online.

Brake also recently welcomed an extension of funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to support UK nationals bereaved by a road crash abroad through its helpline. This funding allows the continuation for a further six months of a service helping families cope with the doubly overwhelming impact of a sudden and violent bereavement in a foreign country, with the additional complications this entails.

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."

Explore Brake's support services at Brake's helpline for bereaved and injured road crash victims can be reached on 0845 603 8570. Tweet us: @Brakecharity.

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, a Fleet Safety Forum, practitioner services, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

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.

Note to Editors (from the Ministry of Justice)
The Government's response to the consultation 'Getting it Right for Victims & Witnesses' acknowledged that more can be done to support victims of road traffic crime who meet the criteria for prioritisation but believed that support for victims of road traffic crime would best be commissioned locally.

In addition to the funding to Brake to support families bereaved by road traffic crime the MoJ intends to engage Police and Crime Commissioners to look at what more can be done to help support victims of road crime including what should / can be done at national level.

Tags: police scottish government ministry of justice helpline