The VPD’s Victim Services Unit (VSU) is comprised of highly trained civilian professionals that are available to provide free and confidential support to victims, witnesses, and family members affected by crime and trauma. They can offer this critical support while still on-scene of a very recent crime and also in the weeks and months following.
As you can likely imagine, VSU staff are often required during very difficult and emotional situations. Over the years, the Vancouver Police Foundation has supported the VSU in providing care and support to victims and witnesses that goes above and beyond their typical practice. Several years ago, we proudly funded the addition of Justice Facility Dog Lucca who provides his calming presence to individuals to lessen the impact of trauma. And years before that, in 2012, we began funding the VSU Flight Kits – a physical package of essential items that is provided to victims when they need it most.
VSU Flight Kits contain items such as clothing including shirts, pants, underwear, socks, etc, personal hygiene items such as toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, etc, notepad and pens, grocery store or coffee shop gift cards, a 9-1-1 phone, snacks and water.
“We can customize the Flight Kits based on the clients needs,” explains Jessica Johnson, Manager of the VPD Victim Services Unit. “We stock a range of clothing sizes for both men and women, as well as a few kits for children. Some clients may not require each of the items, so we are able to select what best suits their immediate needs. We are also able to provide cold weather essentials, such as gloves and toques, when needed as well.”
Flight Kits are specifically designated for any VSU client who has had to flee a situation due to violence or trauma and requires the practical assistance of having access to essential, humanizing items. These Kits are offered to any victim or witness that VSU supports in-person immediately following a traumatic experience. It could be a victim of domestic violence who has just fled their home, a victim of an assault, home invasion or robbery victim who cannot return home or may have turned over their belongings for evidence.
“Having access to these items can help restore some sense of dignity, normalcy and control,” adds Jessica. “These Kits are important because crime victimization takes away so much from a person; control, choice, and their sense of safety and well-being to name a few. Crime is abrupt, unpredictable, and intentional.”
“Flight Kits are one way our unit supports clients with a trauma-informed lens, to help restore a client’s sense of self, autonomy, choice and safety.”
Since 2012, hundreds of Flight Kits have been provided to victims of crime when they it most. These individuals find some fraction of comfort and relief in receiving these items.
“Our clients express gratitude when we provide them with one of these Kits. Many victims have experienced so much trauma in their lifetime, that this small gesture can often be difficult to accept or understand.”
If you would like to donate to support the VSU Flight Kits initiative or any other VPD staff-initiated community program, please donate online or call us at 604.717.3700. Gifts of all sizes can make a difference.