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Information for Bereaved Families and Friends Following Murder or Culpable Homicide


Section 7 Useful organisations and support

This section provides contact details for organisations which can offer you support at this difficult time. Some offer support at specific times ( e.g. the Witness Service at court) while others can provide support before and after the court case.

7.1 Services provided by Victim Support Scotland ( VSS)

Victim Service

Victim Support Scotland gives free and confidential help and support to all those affected by crime. They have specially trained people who are able to support people bereaved by violent crime.

The police can put you in touch with your local Victim Support service or you can contact them yourself. Look in the phone book for details of your local office or contact the VSS national office on 0131 668 4486, or the helpline on 0845 603 9213.

Outside office hours, you can call the UK Victim Support helpline on 0845 30 30 900. This helpline is open 9.00am - 9.00pm weekdays and 9.00am-7.00pm weekends. Calls are charged at the local rate.

Further information can also be found on the Victim Support Scotland website at www.victimsupport.org.

Support After Murder ( SAM)

This VSS service offers support to families and friends who have been bereaved as a result of murder or culpable homicide. Trained volunteers also offer specific support to young people in the aftermath of murder. This service can be accessed through the same contact points given on the previous page.

Witness Service

The Witness Service, run by Victim Support Scotland, is available in every Sheriff and High Court in Scotland. It provides a free and confidential service including:

  • someone to talk to in confidence
  • information on court procedures
  • the opportunity to visit a court before the trial
  • a quiet place to wait before and during the hearing
  • someone to accompany you into the courtroom when giving evidence
  • practical help, for example, with expense forms
  • putting you in touch with people who can answer specific questions about the case (please note the Witness Service cannot discuss evidence or offer legal advice), and
  • the opportunity to talk over the case when it has ended and to get more help or information.

You will find details of the Witness Service in the phone book under the name of the Court. Or you can contact the Victim Support Scotland national office on 0131 668 4486 or the helpline on 0845 603 9213.

7.2 Self-help and other support groups

People Experiencing Trauma and Loss ( PETAL)

PETAL provides practical and emotional support to those affected by murder or suicide. It offers supervised counselling; support by trained volunteers; support groups for adults and children; telephone support; help through the provision of information, home visits and visits to court;
24-hour helpline (all messages answered within one working day); a safe and confidential environment where those experiencing trauma and loss talk to trained volunteers or meet with others in similar circumstances; help and comfort for as long as any individual or family wishes.

PETAL is a registered charity with no affiliation to any religious or political party. It is open to all sections of the community.

PETAL can be contacted on 01698 324502 or you can write to them at:

29 Clydesdale Street

The website address is www.petalsupport.com, and the
e-mail address is kduffy@petalsupport.com.

Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland

A nationwide service offering counselling and advice for all bereaved people. You can contact them at:

Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland
Riverview House
Friarton Road
Perth PH2 8DF

Telephone: 01738 444178,
e-mail to info@crusescotland.org.uk,
or visit the website at www.crusescotland.org.uk.

The Compassionate Friends

Compassionate Friends is a self-help group offering friendship and support to bereaved parents or grandparents who have lost a child of any age through illness, accident, violence or suicide. They can be contacted via their local rate helpline - 08451 23 23 04 - which is always staffed by a bereaved parent and is available 365 days, e-mail at info@tcf.org.uk, or visit the website www.tcf.org.uk. If you prefer, you can write to:

Compassionate Friends
53 North Street

Lesbian and Gay Bereavement Project

The LGBP operates a helpline which offers a listening ear to lesbians and gay men who have been bereaved as well as to family and friends, colleagues and carers. They can be contacted on 0207 403 5969. Alternatively, you can write to them at:

Lesbian and Gay Bereavement Project
Terence Higgins Trust ( THT) Counselling Service
111-117 Lancaster Road
London W11 1QT

Help, information, advice and support is available from the Lesbian and Gay Switchboard:

Lothian 0131 556 4049
Strathclyde 0141 847 0447

The Samaritans

Branches throughout the UK offer help to people who are suicidal or in despair. Look in the phone book for details of your local branch, or contact their 24 hour helpline on 08457 909090. You can call any of the local branches or, if you would prefer, write a letter, to the correspondence branch at:

PO Box 9090

Further information can also be found on their website at www.samaritans.org.uk.

7.3 Religious organisations

Religious beliefs can be a comfort when people are bereaved, and you may wish to seek the help and support of your local community faith leader, church or other place of worship.

7.4 Other sources of help

Citizens Advice Bureau ( CAB)

They provide free, impartial, confidential advice and help, including access to financial and legal advice. For your nearest CAB look in the phone book, contact the national organisation (Citizens Advice Scotland) on 0131 550 1000 or visit www.cas.org.uk.

The Law Society of Scotland

The Law Society is the professional body to which all solicitors belong. They can provide you with details about solicitors in your area. You can contact them on 0131 226 7411, by textphone on 0131 476 8359 or visit their website at www.lawscot.org.uk. Alternatively, you can write to:

The Law Society of Scotland
26 Drumsheugh Gardens

Local authority housing or social work services

You can find details under the name of your local council in your local telephone directory.