PEACE IV Victims and Survivors Research Programme: Addressing Needs and Contributing to a Better Future

In December 2018, the Centre for Cross Border Studies (CCBS) launched their annual Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland in the Moot Court, QUB School of Law. The journal features an article written by Dr Neil Foster, Research Officer at the Commission for Victims and Survivors.

The article highlights how the PEACE IV Victims and Survivors Research Programme is providing a timely and important opportunity to develop our understanding of the enduring impact of the Troubles/Conflict’s legacy on victims and survivors in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland.  The £250,000 Research Programme funded by the European Union PEACE IV Programme will provide the Commission and wider stakeholders with a strengthened evidence base that can inform future policy advice in key areas of service delivery for victims and survivors.   The rationale for the Research Programme is about furthering the three interrelated areas at the centre of the Strategy for Victims and Survivors, namely the development of high quality services delivering measurable improvements in the wellbeing of victims and survivors, dealing with the past and building for the future. The programme is based around three research studies that are being conducted by highly experienced independent research teams from Queens University Belfast and Ulster University. The projects that will complete by December 2020 are:

  • Review of Trauma Services (QUB)
  • Transgenerational Legacy and Young People (QUB)
  • Effective Advocacy Services (UU)

The Commission’s management of these three significant research studies is part of the wider £13.4 million Victims and Survivors Programme funded by the PEACE IV Programme with the Victims and Survivors Service as Lead Partner. The overall objective of the Programme is to ‘improve the health and wellbeing of victims and survivors’ and is focussed on targeting hard-to-reach and marginalised individuals and communities affected by the legacy of the Troubles/Conflict. The research programme will draw from and contribute to the development of other key elements of the Victims and Survivors Programme including the implementation of the Health and Wellbeing Caseworker Network and an Advocacy Support Network. Both Network’s comprise over twenty community-based Health and Wellbeing and Advocacy Caseworkers and Service Managers delivering a personalised and coordinated support service for victims and survivors across Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland.

An important focus of the article is how the Research Programme will support the wider strategic work involved in building a better future for victims and survivors. The Review of Trauma Studies for example will enhance the knowledge and understanding of the clinical impact of psychological therapy and other supportive trauma-related mental health conditions in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. Given the recorded high prevalence of conflict-related mental health conditions including PTSD, clinical depression and anxiety as well as substance dependency in the local population this study will enhance existing and future therapy-based treatments for all service users.   The Effective Advocacy Services project will explore the psychosocial impact of the Trouble’s legacy on victims and survivors accessing Advocacy Support services in the area of historical investigation and information recovery. In reflecting upon the direct experiences of families involved in legacy inquests and historical investigations, current and future agencies can integrate the learning from the research into their own engagement with victims and survivors. The project also provides a timely opportunity to examine the important role of the Advocacy Support Service and the Health and Wellbeing Caseworker Network in offering a package of support for victims and their families. Meanwhile, the Trans-generational Legacy and Young People project will broadly investigate the nature and extent to which the lives of children and young people and their parents are affected by conflict-legacy issues two decades after the 1998 Agreement. The study will include an examination of existing policy and programmes including Together: Building a united Community (T:BUC) and the Tackling Paramilitarism Programme aimed at reducing the impact of conflict legacy issues and building a more stable and reconciled community.

All three research studies will continue to report on progress throughout 2019 and with final reports submitted to the Commission in December 2020. For further information relating to the PEACE IV Victims and Survivors Research Programme please contact Neil Foster at the Commission by phone on 02890 311000 or email at neil.foster@cvsni.org

You can view the full article here on page 54.