We have listed the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions below. If you cannot find the information that you are looking for below or on our website, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is ready to assist you in whatever way we can.
- How do I register with VSS?
- I have received a letter asking me to provide 'further information' in support of my application. What should I do?
- I have been expecting an award letter but this has not arrived?
- My Award Letter says my award is valid to 31 March 2017. Is it too late for me to submit invoices/receipts to claim against the award?
- When can I expect payment for my Support Award?
- I have been told that the invoice or receipt that I have submitted is INELIGIBLE. What does this mean?
- I have been told that, because I did not register with VSS by 31 March 2017, I will not be eligible for a cash payment. Why am I being treated differently to other victims and survivors?
- What if my needs are different to the assistance that is described on this website?
- What if I am currently under threat?
- How do I make a complaint about the VSS?
How do I register with VSS?
The VSS is here to offer support and assistance to all victims and survivors of the Conflict/Troubles.
Our aim is to provide you with services and support that you need, and that will make a difference to your life.
The services we deliver include:
- Complementary Therapies
- Personal/Professional Development Programmes
- Social Support Activities
- Talking Therapies (counselling, psychological therapies, life coaching)
- Transgenerational Activities (activities for young people)
- Truth Justice and Acknowledgement (including Advocacy Support, and Remembrance and Commemoration Activities)
- Welfare Support
We deliver these services and support in the community, in more than 50 locations across Northern Ireland.
To find out more about our service providers, and to discover support that may be available in your area, please click here.
You can contact our service providers directly, or we can help you to do so. Just call us on 028 9027 9100. Our Client Services Team will be happy to assist you in any way that we can.
I have received a letter asking me to provide 'further information' in support of my application. What should I do?
In order to make support available to you, the VSS requires specific supporting documentation. We understand that this can be confusing, and we are ready to help you in whatever way we can. The letter should not give you cause to worry: we treat every application for support in the same way.
If we have written to you requesting further information, the letter will state exactly what is required. We would encourage you to provide that information as quickly as possible, to enable us to progress your application.
If you need help with the letter, please do not hesitate to contact us on 028 9027 9100.
I have been expecting an award letter but this has not arrived?
Once you have submitted an application and supporting documents to us, you should expect to hear from us within approximately 15 working days.
If you are eligible for services under the Individual Needs Programme, we will contact you to let you know. If you are not eligible for services under the Individual Needs Programme, we will still contact you to explain the situation, and to find out whether there are any other services or support that we can recommend or deliver to you.
If you submitted your details to us more than 30 working days ago, please contact us and we will follow up with you as quickly as possible.
My Award Letter says my award is valid to 31 March 2017. Is it too late for me to submit invoices/receipts to claim against the award?
The VSS is still accepting invoices and receipts in relation to INP16/17 awards: please send them to us as soon as possible.
When can I expect payment for my Support Award?
Once we have received both a signed Award Letter and the invoices/receipts you wish to claim for, we will aim to issue your payment within 15-30 working days.
The length of time that we take to process and pay invoices can vary over the year. Our busiest period is May-July. Over this period, we receive very large volumes of incoming post and claims. As a result, we may take up to 30 working days to process claims at this time. However, later in the year, we aim to make payment within 15 working days.
I have been told that the invoice or receipt that I have submitted is INELIGIBLE. What does this mean?
Ineligible time period/date on the claim
Under the current Individual Needs Programme, the VSS can process claims where the invoice/receipt is dated between 1 April 2016-31 March 2017.
Unfortunately, VSS is not able to process any invoices or receipts that are dated prior to 1 April 2016. If we receive a claim where the invoice is dated prior to 1 April 2016, or where it relates to services/goods provided before 1 April 2016, we cannot process that claim.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This includes invoices for holidays / respite breaks. Unfortunately, we can ONLY process invoices where the booking date / invoice is dated AFTER 1 April 2016.
Normally, the VSS can only process claims for items listed on the relevant Eligible Items Lists. If we receive a claim for items that are not on the Eligible Items Lists, and we have no record that the exceptional item has been approved by a Caseworker, we will not be able to process that claim.
You can download the Eligible Items Lists by clicking on the links below:
I have been told that, because I did not register with VSS by 31 March 2017, I will not be eligible for a cash payment. Why am I being treated differently to other victims and survivors?
You are not being treated differently. This new needs-based approach is being applied equally to all individuals who come to the VSS for support.
The changes that have been made to the Programme will ensure that as many victims and survivors as possible gain access to services and support that they need.
The changes that have been made to the way the Individual Needs Programme works are based on feedback that we have received over the past few years. This feedback was considered by the Commission for Victims and Survivors and The Executive Office (formerly OFMDFM), and on that basis, we are now implementing the new Programme.
One of the key changes under this new Programme is that we cannot offer direct financial payments to new individuals coming forward from 3 April 2017 onwards.
This is because the budget for this Programme is limited. To ensure that as many victims and survivors as possible benefit from the support that we have available, our focus is to deliver high quality services based on need.
We are sorry for any frustration that this may cause for you. However, we want to reassure you that we are here to support you if you have specific needs.
We are committed to providing you with services and support that will make a difference to your life – for example, in relation to Psychological Therapies, Persistent Pain, Disability Support, Education and Training, or Advocacy.
We deliver these services and support in the community. We can provide you with information about the services that are available to you, and help you to access that assistance.
What if my needs are different to the assistance that is described on this website?
We understand that you may have needs that are not specifically provided for in the information on this website, or that the eligibility criteria for the Support Schemes may not reflect your personal circumstances.
If this is the case, there are other options available to you. For example, support may also be available from your GP. If you feel that you need urgent counselling, or if you require a disability aid or other essential goods or services relating to your health and wellbeing, you should make an appointment with your GP to discuss this.
If you require support or assistance in making an appointment with your GP or other service provider, please feel free to contact the Client Services Team on 028 9027 9100, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help, and will assist in whatever way we can.
What if I am currently under threat?
The VSS recognises that being under threat can cause significant distress and anxiety.
If you are under threat, the most important thing for you to do is contact the PSNI. If you come to VSS and tell us that you are under threat, we will take the following actions:
- We will ask you if you have already reported this to the PSNI.
- If you have already contacted the PSNI, we will log these details.
- If you have not yet contacted the PSNI, we will tell you that we cannot take any further steps until you report the matter to the PSNI.
- If you do not want to report this to the PSNI, there is another option. You can report the matter to NIACRO (NI Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders).
NIACRO provides crisis intervention, clarification, and support services for individuals and families who may be at risk of violence or exclusion in the community. This work is delivered under a project called BASE 2.
You can contact NIACRO directly, or if you prefer, you can give us your permission to contact them on your behalf.
NIACRO’s contact details:
Telephone: 028 9032 0157
NIACRO, Amelia House, 4 Amelia Street, Belfast, BT2 7GS
- Once the matter has been reported to the PSNI or NIACRO, we can then work with you to identify any other services or support that may be available to you.
This may include services delivered by our funded organisations under the Victims Support Programme (for more information, click here), or directly via the Individual Needs Programme (for more information, click here).
Please note, however, that the normal eligibility criteria will apply to the services and support available under these Programmes.
This approach has been agreed with our partners at the Commission for Victims and Survivors and The Executive Office.