We have updated the frequently asked questions section of our website following the COVID-19 outbreak, to keep you informed and to help victims and survivors through this difficult time.

How do I contact the VSS?

Contacting the Victims and Survivors Service

The health and welfare of victims and survivors, our staff and our community partners is our priority.  We are therefore making changes to how we continue to provide support and services to you.

We have now closed both of our offices (Belfast and Dungannon) to the public. Please do not worry, we are here to help victims and survivors through this difficult time. Staff will continue to work remotely.  Whilst the office is closed, you can continue to contact VSS in the following ways:

By telephone: 02890 279 100 – Please continue to call us on this number.  We will be continuing to answer calls during the hours of 9am to 5pm.   We may call you back outside of these hours.

By e-mail: enquiries@vssni.org – This e-mail address can be used to contact us.   It will be monitored remotely and you will receive a response within 1 working day.

Online Webchat: from this website homepage, click on the speech bubble icon on the bottom right hand corner of the page below where it says ‘We are here to help, let’s chat’. You will be able to chat directly with one of our dedicated Health and Wellbeing team.

Please continue to visit the VSS website for updates and important information.

We appreciate your patience as we continue to work through the challenges ahead – our first priority is, and will remain, to continue to support victims and survivors and their families.

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, please call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.  Lifeline is available 24-7.  Calls to Lifeline are free to people living in Northern Ireland who are calling from UK landlines and mobiles.

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I’m worried I might have coronavirus? What should I do?

Please click here for advice and guidance on COVID-19

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I’m feeling anxious about coronavirus. What should I do?

There is currently a lot of uncertainty.  You might be finding things especially difficult at this time.  Misinformation does not help.  Here’s a useful link to information on the coronavirus including advice for the elderly, benefits and self-isolation.

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19

We are here to help you.  Get in touch with us ‘How to contact the VSS’ or you can contact one of our funded community and voluntary organisations directly. Download our Health and Wellbeing Regional Services Leaflet for support in your area. 

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I live alone and I’m afraid to leave the house. What should I do?

We are here to help you.  Get in touch with us  ‘How to contact the VSS’ or you can contact one of our funded community and voluntary organisations directly. 

Download our Health and Wellbeing Regional Services Leaflet for support in your area. 

We will do everything we can to make sure you have access to what you need.

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When will I receive my Self-Directed payment?

Each year, normally in May, VSS issues payments to victims and survivors in receipt of support via the Self Directed Assistance scheme.

In anticipation of office closure and lockdown due to coronavirus restrictions, we ensured these payments were issued by 1 April 2020. If you normally receive support in this way, you should have received your payment by now.

All payments were cheques, and were issued by post (or by online banking transfer for those who have already provided bank details).  Unfortunately it was not possible to collect your cheque from the VSS office this year as the office had closed by the time payments were issued.

The value of your Self-Directed Payment will be the same as last year’s payment, either £500 or £1,000 depending on your circumstances.

We understand how important this support is to you, particularly at this difficult time.

It you normally receive a payment but have not yet received this please contact VSS at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your patience.

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I have not received a Self-Directed Assistance payment from VSS before, can I apply for one now?

The programme for Self-Directed Assistance payments closed on 31st March 2017.  This scheme has now been replaced with an increase in health and wellbeing services and support.   These services and support are available to all victims and survivors.  We have a network of Health and Wellbeing Caseworkers across Northern Ireland and beyond who are here to help.

To get in touch with a Health and Wellbeing Caseworker please contact the VSS ‘How to contact the VSS’ or you can contact one of our funded community and voluntary organisations directly.  Download our Caseworker Support Network leaflet here.

 

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I have not received a Home Heating Grant from VSS before, can I apply for one now?

The Home Heating scheme closed to new applicants on 31st March 2018.

If you are worried about heating your home during this period, please contact us click here or contact one of our funded community and voluntary organisations directly. Download our Caseworker Support Network leaflet here.

We are here to help and will do everything we can to make sure you are safe and comfortable during this period.

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Can I continue to send receipts for home heat to the VSS office?

Please do not send any invoices or receipts to our office. Our priority at this time is to protect you and our staff. The VSS staff team is now working off-site. Our payments processes have been adapted and adjusted to enable payments to happen as smoothly and safely as possible.

If you are in receipt of a home heating grant, you will receive a payment of £250 in April 2020 and a second payment of £250 will be available in September 2020. We ask that you keep your receipts in a safe place for now. We will be in touch once we’re back to business as usual.

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I have received a payment from VSS by cheque. How can I cash this if banks close or I am unable to leave the house?

The situation regarding banks is ever changing. Each bank has an information page on their website regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their branch opening hours. You should check this before you leave your home to cash your cheque.

Some banks offer automated teller machines for lodging cheques which are located outside of their branches. There are also some banks who offer a service for cheque lodgement through mobile apps. Please call the customer service team at your bank to get advice on the alternative cheque lodgement services they offer.

You have until 01 October before the cheque becomes stale / invalid.

If you are shielding or worried about leaving the house we can cancel the cheque and issue a BACs payment. You will need to contact VSS and a staff member will be able to help you with this.

Please note this is a timely process for finance and can take some weeks.

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My supplier has asked me if they can send invoices to the VSS office?

Please do not send any invoices or receipts to our office.  Our priority at this time is to protect you and our staff.  The VSS staff team is now working off-site.  Our payments processes have adapted and adjusted to this difficult time.  In the meantime please direct all suppliers to e-mail our finance team at finance@vssni.org and a member of our dedicated team will get back to them.

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