GIVING evidence at court can be a daunting experience.
But a team of 20 volunteers make sure witnesses and victims get the support they need before going to trial.
Members of Witness Service give up their time helping people who are due to appear at courts in Portsmouth and Fareham.
Before hearings, they sit with people in a room away from the main waiting area and put them at ease.
And if anyone has asked to give evidence behind a screen or via a television link in another room then a volunteer offers to sit with them.
Mary Waldron, who leads the volunteers with her colleagues Claire Haque and Catherine Redmond, couldn’t thank them enough for their help.
‘It’s amazing they do this for free,’ she said.
‘Some do one or two days a week and others do more.
‘They go into the court if there is a vulnerable witness and they have special measures, like a screen.
‘We try to thank them every time they come in and go home.
‘It’s so important they feel worthwhile. They do such a worthwhile thing.’
Mary is a huge supporter of Volunteers’ Week, a campaign running until Friday which celebrates the work volunteers do in their communities.
‘Their work really helps people,’ she said. ‘It gives them the confidence to present the best possible evidence in a court room. Going to court is a scary experience.
‘Without the volunteers, the victims and witnesses wouldn’t get any support.
‘They would be in the main waiting area with defendants and their supporters and just feel more intimidated.’
Tomorrow The News will feature a story about the role of volunteers at The Rowans Hospice Shop, in Fratton, Portsmouth.