What do you provide?
Contact our office on 01234 843345 and ask to speak to one of our Coordinators who will be able to help you. The majority of the support we provide is through weekly one hour sessions carried out in your own home. Alternatively these sessions can be at our office or we can provide telephone support. Suitable arrangements can be made to fit your needs.
There is no time-limit for accessing support.
The service is free of charge. We are a charity and receive funding and donations to provide this service.
Support can be offered on a short-term or long-term basis. For as long as it is useful.
Our Counselling Volunteers are people who are able to offer their time to the Trust. They have undertaken a rigorous training course, and regularly participate in on-going training and supervision.
Counselling Volunteers have been trained to listen carefully and offer emotional and practical support, including support through court proceedings. They are familiar with the legal processes and many of the situations you may face and are fully supported in the work they do, and, through the Coordinators, can access information from the police, legal services and other agencies as required.
No, they are not qualified to offer legal advice. However for matters relating to criminal cases a Coordinator will liaise with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to find relevant information and court dates.
One of our Coordinators will match you up with a Counselling Volunteer and arrange an initial meeting. You may then agree to meet with your Counselling Volunteer regularly. If you need to contact your Counselling Volunteer to change your appointment you can do this by contacting our office on 01234 843345. You can also contact our Coordinators via this number if you have an urgent question, need help or immediate support (within core office hours 8.30 am to 4.30 pm).
There is nothing that you can’t say, or discuss, with your Counselling Volunteer it will depend on what you need from the sessions and may change over time.
Sessions take place regularly and last about one hour. Initially, you will probably meet once a week, but that may change with time following discussion between you and your Counselling Volunteer. Sessions will generally take place in your home, or at one of the Trust’s offices. The sessions will be arranged for a time which is convenient for you.
We are able to support families as groups or individuals. The type of support your family receives will be discussed and agreed with our Counselling Volunteer.
We are able to offer support to all family members. It may be that you will find having sessions together useful as support is not limited to one member of the family. Let us know if a family member or friend needs support and we can discuss providing individual support to them too.
Family and friends may be of great support and comfort to you. However, our experience is that our service can offer another level of support that allows you to talk freely without fear of upsetting or offending others, with someone who has specialist knowledge about the specifics of the aftermath of a serious or fatal road collision.
We can only offer our face-to-face service within these three counties however, if we are unable to recommend a local support service to you we will offer what support we can. This may include telephone support. If you are in doubt or have any questions please contact the office on 01234 843345.
The support is provided either by a Coordinator or Counselling Volunteer who all have a counselling background and have successfully completed the Trust training on working with the specifics of road death, injury, bereavement and trauma.
After the collision
If you were not involved in the collision then your first contact with the police will be when they visit to let you know what has happened. The Family Liaison Officer (FLO) is part of the investigation team and has been specially trained to work with the family or partner of the deceased. Soon after the collision they may arrange for you to identify the person who has died.
A FLO will be assigned to your family and will act as a point of contact and reference in respect of the investigation. As the investigation progresses they will be available to give you information and answer your questions.
As well as the FLO, you may meet or hear about the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) who leads the investigation team, the Collision Investigator who analyses all the evidence, and the Officer in the case who pulls together all the evidence.
The time a FLO has to spend with you will be limited due to their other policing duties. The Road Victims Trust works in partnership with Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary and this enables us to access information on the investigation and continue to support the family in ways the FLO is not able to. The Trust offers emotional support that allows difficult and painful matters to be discussed and practical support around inquests and court hearings.
Following a collision it may take some time for the police to establish and check the identity of those involved. In some cases individuals may have no ID with them or there may be more than one person to match to the ID found in the vehicle. Sometimes the dead or injured person may have no link to the registration number of the vehicle.
The police need to be sure of the identity of the dead and injured before notifying their families.
The police investigation team try to keep the next of kin informed about the collision and how the investigation is proceeding. If you ask questions they can’t answer it is either because they do not have an answer yet or because giving out the information would jeopardise the enquiry. They will let you know why they can’t answer your question.
The investigation can take many months because there will be experts such as forensic scientists and pathologists working on the case to prepare the file and there may be witnesses to interview. In our experience the initial police investigation often takes about six months, but in complex investigations it can take a lot longer. Once the file is prepared an inquest or criminal proceedings will take place.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand why the possessions that were in the car aren’t returned straight away. The FLO will be able to let you know why this is, for example it may be part of the evidence needed for the investigation. Mobile telephones for example may need to be sent away for call analysis and so their return is delayed.
The FLO will get any possessions back to you as soon as they can.
From hospital to funeral
Organ donation can only take place in very specific circumstances. Organs have to be transplanted very soon after someone has died and consequently can only be donated by someone who has died in hospital. Usually organs come from people who are certified dead while on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit. If your loved one fits these criteria a trained member of the hospital staff will discuss this with you to get your views and the views of your loved one.
More detailed information on organ donation can be found on www.organdonation.nhs.uk
You will receive a call from a Coroner’s Officer. The Coroner’s Officer works with the Coroner organising the inquests, liaising with the police and funeral director and contacting families and witnesses. The Coroner is a lawyer responsible for holding an inquiry into sudden deaths in particular situations and does so by holding an inquest, a legal inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the death.
The Coroner is involved in all cases of sudden death not just road collision deaths. Following a road collision the Coroner will open an inquest to record the death and identify the deceased but the inquest is then adjourned until the police investigation and their own enquiries are completed.
The inquest is held to establish the causes and circumstances of a road death (who died, when, where and how). It is not about determining blame. Criminal or civil courts are where liability for the collision is decided.
A post-mortem is a medical examination of a body carried out at a hospital to find out more about the cause of death. You cannot choose whether there is a post mortem, but if you have religious or other strong objections you can tell the Coroner. Following the post-mortem the Coroner will release the interim death certificate or death certificate.
An inquest is a legal inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the death and will be conducted by the Coroner who is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating sudden deaths.
The Coroner will issue an interim death certificate if there is going to be an inquest or criminal court proceedings. He or she will also issue permission for the funeral to go ahead. The interim death certificate can be used to notify asset holders and other organisations of the death and to make an application for probate.
A full death certificate is released at the conclusion of the inquest or criminal court proceedings. At this stage the death can be registered.
Until the Coroner issues the interim death certificate or death certificate he or she will not release the body to the family or next of kin. Once this has happened you will be able to decide what happens next to your loved one, for example working with the funeral director to organise the funeral.
Most funeral directors will offer you the opportunity to view or spend time with your loved one. It can be a shock for people to find that their loved one does not look the same after death and that they feel cold to touch. People differ in their response at this time with some commenting that their loved one looks peaceful, while someone else may struggle to recognise the person they knew.
It is important to ask for what you want at this time. You may want to choose what your loved one will wear and help to dress them, style their hair or help with their make-up.
In some cases there will be little evidence of external injuries on the body. In other cases the body might be badly damaged. In those instances you may be worried about seeing their body. This is a normal concern.
The hospital or funeral parlour staff may be able to describe the injuries to you so that you can make a decision about whether or not to view your loved one. For some the visit is a time to say goodbye and seeing the injuries can be easier than living with what you imagined they might have looked like. For others it may feel too distressing to view the body and they may prefer to remember their loved one as they were before the injuries.
Discussing your options with family, friends and hospital or funeral staff may help you to reach the decision that is right for you.
There is a legal requirement in this country that, once a death is certified and registered, the body must be properly taken care of, either by burial or cremation.
If you receive a low income benefit and feel you cannot afford the cost of a funeral you may be able to get a funeral payment. Full details of this and other benefits can be found by clicking on this link: https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits
These questions may already have been decided if there are written instructions in a will, or your loved one had made clear their decision on what they would like to happen to their body when they died.
The sudden, unexpected and untimely nature of death in a road collision often means that these decisions have not been made and it can be difficult to make decisions on behalf of your loved one at this distressing time.
There are no right or wrong answers and if you have no idea what your loved one would have wanted, it can be useful to talk to other family members and friends. The funeral director may also be able to discuss available options with you.
Whatever you choose for your loved one it is important that you know exactly what will happen on the day from travel arrangements and timings to flowers.
Contrary to popular belief the cremated remains are not ashes, but are dried bone that has been crushed to form an ash like powder. Another decision you will have to make is what to do with these remains and this may be dictated by personal, cultural or religious beliefs.
Your choices may range from keeping the box or urn of cremated remains in your home, scattering them in a designated site or placing them in a memorial vault or garden of remembrance.
The funeral director, your religious leader or local authority will be able to provide you with information on what is possible in your area.