A PIONEERING scheme to help support victims of violence is being extended into Ayrshire.

Last week the Scottish Government announced the award of £140,000 to the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit to expand its ‘Navigator’ programme to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire.

The Navigator is a unique scheme which seeks to help people trapped in a cycle of violence. Mentors or ‘navigators’ provide support in hospital, help to diffuse difficult situations, and identify support services that patients can access.

And the mother of a young Three Towns man who was murdered in 2013 has welcomed the news.

Lynn Burns, whose son Sam died after being stabbed in Saltcoats, called the scheme ‘exceptional’ and hopes it will bring ‘huge benefits’.

Lynn, who is Vice Chair of charity Break the Silence and Young Enterprise Scotland Business Adviser volunteer at St Matthews Academy said: “The navigator project is an exceptional initiative funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the Violence Reduction Unit. The pilot aims to reduce violence and signpost services to people.

“It is excellent news for Ayrshire.

“It has the potential to change lives and empower people to make different lifestyle choices.

“It will bring huge benefits to both medical staff and patients.

“I am so pleased that Crosshouse Hospital has been selected to participate in this programme and feel that anything which has to potential to reduce violence or harm to people is most welcome.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced the funding last week and said: “Violent crime in Scotland has nearly halved over the last decade but there remains a small number of victims who experience a high proportion of such crimes.

“Navigators do a remarkable job dealing sensitively and compassionately with people who are injured and distressed – helping them make steps towards turning their lives around, breaking away from the cycle of violence – and I am pleased to be able to fund their expansion.

“In less than two years this unique programme has offered support to more than 450 people, as well as reassuring emergency department staff that patients who come through their doors will receive a listening ear and practical support as well as the medical treatment they need.”

Inspector Keith Jack, Navigator project lead said: “Thanks to this additional funding from the Scottish Government the Navigators will be able to help more people break free from the cycle of violence. We work closely with our dedicated NHS colleagues in Glasgow and Edinburgh to help support those affected by violence towards a safer and healthier future. Often people just need a helping hand to make changes which benefit them, their families and their communities. We’re looking forward to working closely with the hard working medical teams at Queen Elizabeth and Crosshouse hospitals."