Tricia Fitzgerald’s 17 years as a psychiatric nurse and community home provider were the perfect background to her becoming a volunteer for Victim Support. Having sold her business providing supported homes for people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities, Tricia decided to call Victim Support and offer her services.
By a stroke of luck, on the other end of the phone was Cherry, someone she’d become friends with through her business. No need for a character reference!
Tricia’s father had been one of the first Police officers in Porirua and Tricia grew up in a community that supported each other. Now for her, “Victim Support epitomises that sense of community support.”
When she was burgled, the support she received from a then newly formed Victim Support service cemented her desire to volunteer when she retired. She only finished her initial training in March but already her past experiences have been very useful. “I wouldn’t say it’s been easy. It was a trial at times and I’m grateful to be a volunteer in an organisation with incredible team support and resources. The number of women in the organisation really amazed me and I’m very happy with that"
"The diversity of cases and the hurt that’s out there astounds me. We’re supporting the supporters as well."
Tricia was one of a large team working on the aftermath of the recent Loafers Lodge fire. She supported a total of 11 people ─ nine victims of the arson, plus two witnesses. “My previous skills and new training really came into practice, and I felt comfortable talking to the victims over the phone. I wanted to go feet-first into the Loafers Lodge case as I knew they were people who were vulnerable and sometimes unable to explain their needs clearly.”
As well as Loafers Lodge, her first suicide case - that of a 19-year-old boy - particularly stood out to Tricia. “I was very privileged to be welcomed into the family’s home. It was the community around this boy’s family that I was most astounded with. Living in the city, you don’t realise how a rural community comes together.”
Now well settled into the role, the only way is up for Tricia. “I’d like to set myself a goal of more study and to get more involved in the organisation. I’m interested in the mental health aspects of some cases. How we can develop more interventions for those with other agencies, and increase the awareness of how mental health impacts aspects of the case management for Support Workers and volunteers.”
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Jim's exceptional commitment to his community was recently recognised with the Queen’s Birthday Honours and Service Medal for Victim Support work.