Belfast Telegraph

Countess of Wessex visits NSPCC's Young Witness Service during Belfast trip

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charityÕs Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charityÕs Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with Judge Fiona Bagnell, Judge Isobel Brownlee and volunteers from the NSPCC Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with Jenni Boyce, Service Manager for Young Witness Service and Head of the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, Neil Anderson. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with Judge Fiona Bagnell, Judge Isobel Brownlee and volunteers from the NSPCC Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with Jenni Boyce, Service Manager for Young Witness Service in a video suite at Laganside Court. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is introduced to Connie, the NSPCC's court assistance dog and volunteers from the Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with Judge Fiona Bagnell, Judge Isobel Brownlee and volunteers from the NSPCC Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is introduced to Connie, the NSPCC's court assistance dog and volunteers from the Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is introduced to Connie, the NSPCC's court assistance dog and volunteers from the Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with Jenni Boyce, Service Manager for Young Witness Service, Head of the NSPCC in Northern Ireland, Neil Anderson and NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is pictured with Jenni Boyce, Service Manager for Young Witness Service and volunteers from the NSPCC Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is introduced to Connie, the NSPCC's court assistance dog and volunteers from the Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd January 2018 - The NSPCC's Royal patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex, has seen at first hand the charity's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast. The Countess of Wessex is introduced to volunteers from the Young Witness Service. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

The Countess of Wessex has seen at first hand the NSPCC's Young Witness Service during a visit to Laganside Courts in Belfast.

The Young Witness Service is unique to Northern Ireland and provides support for hundreds of children and young people under the age of 18 who have to go through the process of giving evidence in court. 

More than 2,500 children and young people have used the service in the past four years.

The initiative is funded by the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland and is available to young witnesses of all types of crime in every crown, magistrate and youth court.

The event was attended by NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless plus several of the Young Witness Service volunteers and staff who spoke to the Countess of Wessex about their experiences and their work.

Among those who met The Countess was Mary Collen, from Co Armagh who has volunteered with the NSPCC since 1987 and was awarded an MBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list.

The Countess of Wessex, who is the Royal patron for the charity, was also introduced to Connie, the NSPCC’s court assistance dog.

The three-year-old Black Labrador is the first assistance dog to be used to support young witnesses who have to give evidence in court. So far she has assisted in 13 cases and has been specially trained to be a calming influence on children facing the stress of a court appearance.

Service Manager for Young Witness Service Jenni Boyce said: “We are delighted that HRH the Countess of Wessex has visited the Young Witness Service to see first-hand the brilliant work which our amazing staff and volunteers are contributing.

“Over the years our volunteers have helped thousands of children and their families through what can be a daunting time in their lives.  We are so pleased that this visit has shone a light on the vital and important work that the volunteers are carrying out in Belfast and in courts right across Northern Ireland.”

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “This unique service provided by the NSPCC has been of enormous help to thousands of children from who have been witnesses to crime or victims of it.

“The Countess of Wessex’s visit was a wonderful acknowledgement of the work of our dedicated volunteers and staff who have given such vital and practical support to so many children from Northern Ireland.”

As well as Laganside Courts, the Young Witness Service operates at a number of courts throughout Northern Ireland including  Lisburn, Newtownards, Downpatrick, Newry, Armagh, Omagh, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Derry, Coleraine, Antrim and Ballymena.

Darcey the therapy dog
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Darcey the therapy dog The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Darcey the therapy dog The Countess of Wessex Officially opens the new adult Northern Ireland Hospice building in Belfast on January 23rd 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

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