Each year thousands of New Zealanders are affected by crime, involved in accidents or affected by sudden and traumatic events. Victim Support are there 24/7 to help and guide people through their darkest hours. This week, we speak to people who were helped back from the brink by dedicated Victim Support staff after their lives were turned upside down by crime.The Other Side of Crime is a campaign to help raise awareness and funds for this crucial victim service.
It was a Saturday night in 2013 when Tania Gallagher's world collapsed around her.
She was sitting at home in Pukekawa waiting for her son Darryl to visit. He was out fishing and had called earlier to say he'd be around to cook up his catch for dinner.
As a crisp August day faded into night Gallagher began to wonder where her boy was.
Eventually she heard a car in the driveway and assumed it was Darryl.
But then came the knock at the door, the solemn police officers standing on her deck, the crushing revelation Darryl was dead.
The 25-year-old had spent the day fishing with Shane Bailey, his mate of more than a decade.
Gallagher said her son called home at 12.45pm to say he would cook tea for her and her husband, Clint.
But he and Bailey ended up drinking at a house in Pukekohe.
They ran out of cigarettes and booze and headed out to buy more.
A female friend drove to the shop for the cigarettes but Bailey took the wheel when it was time to head to the liquor store.
He lost control of the vehicle on a bend and slammed into a power pole at almost 130km/h.
Darryl died instantly.
Bailey's blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit and it was later revealed in court he had more than 15 convictions - including one for careless driving causing injury.
When the police arrived at Gallagher's door to tell her Darryl was dead, they had a Victim Support worker with them.
She knew the family, had heard about the crash at the police station and volunteered to help.
"From then on, she worked with me right through," said Gallagher.
"She organised for my husband to go and identify the body, she offered to go with him.
"She was asking us questions and answering questions, she was ringing people for me, she was just there for everything - because I didn't know what to do."
Gallagher said her Victim Support volunteer stayed in the background, but made sure she and her husband survived their son's death.
She helped with funeral arrangements, escorted them to court and made sure they knew what was happening throughout the process. She guided them through the Coroner's inquest and stayed at their side as Bailey made a bid for parole.
"When he went for parole she organised everything and we went to Wellington for the hearing," Gallagher said.
"She organised transport, flights, accommodation - she was just so helpful."
Gallagher said before her son died she had no idea what Victim Support was all about.
"I knew of them but I didn't know how in-depth they were, I was surprised at the level of help we got," she said.
"You don't realise how important Victim Support is until you need them - and you never know when are going to be in that position.
"You think it will never happen to you."
Gallagher said it was hard to describe what Victim Support had done for her family.
"I honestly can't put into words how brilliant they are," she said.
"I think if they didn't exist there would be a lot of very lost people … in all honesty, I'd probably be dead, I would have killed myself. I would have been lost without my volunteer."
Since Darryl's death, his sister has become a Victim Support volunteer.
She felt it was important to help people in the same way her family was helped during their worst and hardest days.
"It's good to be able to give back, to help," she said.
VICTIM SUPPORT - HOW TO HELP
To donate to Victim Support click here.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer or for more information, visit victimsupport.org.nz.
WHAT IS VICTIM SUPPORT
Victim Support is an independent incorporated society that provides a free 24/7 community response to help victims of serious crime and trauma.
Hundreds of volunteers provide emotional and practical support, information, referral to other support services and advocacy for the rights of victims.
This support helps victims find strength, hope and safety in the face of grief and trauma at what may be the worst time of their life.