Meet the New Connect Gwent Coordinator

2nd February 2015

Gwent PCC Ian Johnston today announced the appointment of Helen Whewell from Abersychan near Pontypool as the Coordinator for Connect Gwent - the new victims' care service which is currently under development and which aims to enhance the quality of support and contact with all victims of crime in Gwent.

Situated in the former Blackwood Police Station Social Club building, Connect Gwent is bringing together a range of agencies and organisations to provide enhanced support which will enable Gwent Police to work more effectively and efficiently with victims of crime. The project is being funded through the Ministry of Justice Victims Services grant which is awarded to PCC Ian Johnston so he can provide enhanced victim related services in Gwent.

Helen began her work with Connect Gwent last week in a role which is designed to ensure victims are supported inside and outside the criminal justice process and that they receive the support, information and guidance they need to cope with their victimisation and recover from it.

From 2002, Helen, who has a BA Honours degree in Philosophy from Essex University, worked as a Welfare Rights Officer for Torfaen County Borough Council. After graduating with a Diploma in Social Work in 2006, she joined the Community Mental Health Team at Newport City Council as a Social Worker where she liaised closely with the Police in supporting people with severe and acute forms of mental distress. She then progressed to the role of Senior Social Worker in the Adult Protection Team in Newport City Council before being appointed Team Manager at the Royal Gwent Hospital Social Services Team. Helen joins Connect Gwent on secondment from Newport City Council.

Excited about her new role, Helen Whewell, said: "It's not often you get a chance to set something up specifically to meet people's needs and I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to make a real positive difference to the lives of victims of crime in Gwent. With my background in social services, I value the importance of meeting people's individual needs and in improving their lives for the future.

This innovative new service will be a first for Wales and will provide the best support available for victims of crime here in Gwent. Knowing who to turn to and where to go is a huge help for victims of crime and we hope to satisfy a need which has been there for a long time."

Highlighting her vision for the service and what she hopes it will achieve, Helen said: "Connect Gwent will achieve its best results if all the partners who provide support to victims of crime work together. One of the key indicators of our success will be the overall improvement in the satisfaction of victims.

We want victims of crime to feel that their needs have been listened to and met. Connect Gwent will be the 'go to' place for the care they need after suffering any sort of crime and will provide a person centred service which will focus on their individual needs."

Helen will now be planning and organising regular meetings with key agencies and partners in the community to discuss how they can work together to provide a holistic and supportive service to victims of crime in Gwent.

Welcoming Helen's appointment, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "We were looking for a confident and charismatic individual with experience of working within the criminal justice system to lead on the development and delivery of this service. I am delighted to say that we have found that person in Helen and I would like to congratulate her on securing this leading role in the development of this new service.

Connect Gwent is all about putting the victim first and improving the way services are delivered to them which is at the heart of everything we do. It's vital that we improve victim satisfaction and the quality of victim contact. From the police officers on the front line to the staff and external stakeholders who will work from the hub - we all have an important responsibility and a vested interest in ensuring this service provides enhanced support which will enable us to provide a better outcome for victims of crime."

A significant amount of work has been undertaken on the design, structure and development of Connect Gwent over the last few months. Construction and renovation work on the physical new home for the hub at Blackwood Police Station is well underway and the project has its own unique identity with the development of a new logo and branding. A new website and a range of social media sites are also being developed in-house by Gwent Police's Digital Communications Team. These new multi-media platforms will play a vital role in providing quick and easy access to a range of online information for all victims of crime in Gwent.

Connect Gwent will be up and running by the beginning of April this year with the official launch being planned for the end of May 2015.

A video of Helen Whewell highlighting what victims' can expect from Connect Gwent is also available to watch on the Gwent PCC You Tube channel or by clicking here.