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Joy Leighton is a Senior Operations Officer at Victim Support. Here she talks to Senior Communications Officer, Natalie Mantle, about the impact of SafeLives Service Manager training and Leading Lights accreditation.  


Hi Joy, can you tell us a little about your role and your background?

Joy Leighton

I joined Victim Support way back in 1998 as a volunteer to support victims of crime. This support ranged from victims of criminal damage to homicide. I enjoyed the specialist training and when an opening came for a deputy co-ordinator at my local branch, I leapt at the chance to change career paths. After this I survived two internal restructures, firstly as a branch manager and then I set up and ran the local victim's hub for Hertfordshire before being made redundant in May 2011 due to the inception of the regional hub in Essex. However, proving you can never keep a good woman down(!) I re-joined Victim Support in October 2011 as Manager of Luton Idva Service.

You've since gone on to complete the SafeLives Service Managers training. What was your motivation to do this?

Having completed the Idva and Sexual Violence training with SafeLives, this coupled with an ever increasing Idva service and the pilot of a KIDVA service, I heard about the Leading Lights programme and always keen to improve and develop what I deemed to be an already strong Idva service, I decided to take the plunge and take the first step to achieving the accreditation. 

Since completing the Service Managers training, you've gone on to gain Leading Lights accreditation. Can you tell me a little bit about that process?

The process was a little slow to begin with - as a national charity, Victim Support had several managers who had gone through the managers training from various geographical areas (Herts, Beds, Manchester, London) and as far as I'm aware we were the first national organisation to go for it. After a little toing and froing (due to Victim Support gaining additional services) I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. I used my action plan from the Service Managers training as a basis to identify where any shortfalls were. I quickly put Leading Lights on the team meeting agenda and scheduled in Leading Lights meetings to review processes and work through the action plan, liaising with various departments within Victim Support to look at policies to ensure we met the criteria needed. I utilised Kathryn, SafeLives Leading Lights trainer when needed (she is very approachable!) to give me guidance and advice. Part way through the process I booked in a date for the Leading Lights assessment day to give the team something to aim for. The day itself was 'pain free'. Kathryn and her colleague were personable, which helped put the team at ease, while they carried out the case file audit and interviews with staff. Then it was just waiting for the Leading Lights panel to sit in order to find out our fate. A few weeks later we found out all the hard work had paid off when we got the good news we had passed!

What's the biggest imapct you think completing the Service Managers training, and gaining Leading Lights accreditation, has had on you and your service?

For me personally, I think it has been a great sense of achievement and pride. With the support of a hard working team, I think it helped me turn a good service into an excellent one. The team are now reassured that the service runs to 'best practice'. Post Leading Lights, the team still comment on how much more effectively and efficiently they now work. I think it is good to be able to demostrate to both current and future commissioners that the service is Leading Lights accredited and what this means for them. In July 2016 we were successful in winning back the Bedfordshire Idva service and are currently in the process of beginning Leading Lights again!

If anyone is considering signing up for Service Managers training, but isn't sure, what words of advice would you offer them?

Have a plan and don't reinvent the wheel! Utilise services that have already been through it whether that is internally to your organisation or externally. Get the team on board, be inclusive, wherever possible, utilise their knowledge and expertise around service delivery to get their views on what will work. Put Leading Lights on team meeting agendas to keep them informed. Trial processes to find out what works well for your team. Be brave and set a date so you have a goal to work towards. Good luck :) 

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