Brake support standards

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Brake takes very seriously the requirement to meet the needs of people bereaved and seriously injured by road crashes, and to provide them with the best quality support we can. This page outlines our objective and aims, and the service standards we aim to meet.

To ensure our service standards are met, Brake maintains internal protocols relating to the aspects of service delivery outlined below, trains staff in these protocols, and monitors output to ensure these standards are complied with. Brake also works to maintain appropriate funding levels and pursues funding as far in advance as possible to enable delivery against these standards, although sometimes we are constrained by a lack, restriction or withdrawal of funds, or uncertainty about future funding. 

You can also read our helpline specification and who we help for more information about our helpline services.

If you have used our victim services, we welcome your feedback. You can provide feedback using our online form. You can view our complaints policy here.

You can also read our guide to government agency codes and standards, which may be relevant to you in the aftermath of a serious road crash. If you would like help understanding any of these, please contact the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 or helpline@brake.org.uk.

 Brake's victim services objective

Brake's victim services' objective is to help relieve the suffering and assist the recovery of people bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes to enable them to lead positive, healthy and happy lives into the future. We aim to do this through an effective set of services delivered to people who are often in extreme distress and have profound needs, and also delivered to those who come into contact with them and are able to provide additional support, such as police officers, nurses, and family members.

 Brake's victim services aims 

  1. To support victims’ emotional recovery in order to enable them to feel valued, comforted and safe during a time when they are highly vulnerable.
  2. To provide information to facilitate victims’ understanding of often unfamiliar and complex procedures resulting from a crash, and to aid informed choices.
  3. To problem solve and to help to resolve difficulties, by talking through options and by offering and providing as necessary, advocacy relating to practical and procedural difficulties victims are facing, in order to help reduce the stresses that such issues can place on victims at the worst possible time.
  4. To help victims to identify and acknowledge any medium to long term psychological or physical symptoms, including trauma symptoms, from which they or their loved ones may be suffering and help them to seek and access appropriate assessments and treatment from the NHS and other sources to alleviate these symptoms.
  5. To facilitate access, where appropriate and where possible, to agencies and services which are able to provide face to face or specialist support which complements the support provided by Brake’s helpline and to signpost victims to relevant services and experts, nationally and locally, to assist in their overall recovery, and to help support their practical and emotional needs.
  6. To provide support and information to people caring for, and professionals working with, bereaved or injured road crash victims.

Most people using Brake's victim services have a combination of needs relating to two or three of these areas. Different needs emerge in different ways and at different times. Services offered to meet these needs are:

  • Support over the phone or by email from a Brake helpline officer;
  • Information provision through Brake’s websites and support literature, for adults and children;
  • Information and problem solving over the phone or by email from a helpline officer;
  • Advocacy on procedural issues, through phone liaison and email/written correspondence between a helpline officer and external agencies on behalf of the victim;
  • Appropriate face to face support provided by local agencies, sourced by a Brake helpline officer;
  • Support over the phone from a Brake volunteer, who has been bereaved in a similar way and has made a good recovery, facilitated by a helpline officer;
  • Exploration, identification, assessment and treatment of on-going psychological and physical symptoms suffered by the victim due to the crash, through liaison between the victim, the helpline officer, the NHS and other agencies.

 Brake’s road crash victim support literature standards

Brake has been producing support literature for people bereaved and injured in road crashes and their carers, and supporting these people through our helpline and associated services, for many years to great acclaim. To deliver high quality, accessible services that are relevant, appropriate and useful for bereaved and injured crash victims, Brake adheres to the below standards.

Brake victim support literature: 

  1. is written in plain, simple, concise English, so it is as easy to understand as possible.
  2. is objective; Brake does not express subjective opinion through its victim support literature.
  3. provides information and advice, so that service users can make informed choices, rather than instructing and leading service users towards a particular course of action.
  4. is checked and updated regularly, in consultation with relevant experts, so the content is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, within the constraints of our funding.
  5. covers a comprehensive range of topics that are relevant to the type of service user at which it is aimed, while also being as concise as possible.
  6. is distributed as widely as possible to the type of service user it is aimed at, within the constraints of our funding, and made as accessible as possible to those who would benefit from it, including being available on our website.
  7. is available in alternative formats as much as possible, within the constraints of our funding. Most notably all information in Brake’s literature is available over the phone (via Brake's helpline). Some literature is available in different languages or in audio version, although this is subject to funding availability.
  8. is presented in a professional, high-quality format, which acknowledges the way the literature is used, to support accessibility and ease of use, including quality design and materials, and use of correct language.

 Brake's helpline standards

Brake operates a helpline contacted by hundreds of people every year who have been affected by a road death or serious injury, and professionals who work with and care for these victims.

Brake’s helpline officers:

  1. will respond to service users who leave an answerphone message or email helpline@brake.org.uk within one working day (Monday-Friday) of their message unless otherwise stated.
  2. will use careful listening and straightforward questioning to identify individual service users' needs, so the support provided can be tailored to these needs, while respecting a service user’s right to say as much or as little as they choose.
  3. will use plain English and the use of additional tools such as Brake’s road crash victim support literature to aid understanding of information being provided.
  4. will put the services user’s needs at the heart of their work, prioritising these needs at all times, in line with the aims of Brake’s support services.
  5. will explain clearly the services available and the limitations of those services, so service users understand what is and isn’t available.
  6. are paid professionals, experienced in helping people in distress and trained in the needs of victims of road death and injury. 
  7. work to strict confidentiality, data protection and safeguarding protocols. This requires Brake’s helpline to maintain the confidentiality of any service user unless a service user agrees to particular information sharing in order to enable advocacy on their behalf, or unless there are extreme concerns relating to their immediate safety or the safety of others. Copies of Brake's victim service policies on confidentiality, data protection and safeguarding can be obtained by emailing admin@brake.org.uk.