A national charity which supports victims of crime in Bury is celebrating a special anniversary.

Victim Support is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, assisting both the victims of crime, and witnesses who appear in court.

The Bury branch of the charity is based in the Town Hall and also has an office in Bury Magistrates Court.

It has been running for 11 years, and has around 40 volunteers who support people in court and help to fundraise for the charity.

The charity gives victims and witnesses free and confidential emotional support in their local area, and helps witnesses to familiarise themselves with court so they are not daunted or overawed when they appear.

Andrew Rowcroft, service delivery manager for the charity in Bury, said the charity has helped 31,000 victims and nearly 11,000 witnesses throughout Greater Manchester.

He said: “Years ago people used to be out in the corridors with the defendants, but now they have got their own special witness suite.

“It is all about making their experience of the criminal justice system as comfortable as possible.”

On a national level, the charity is involved in supporting the NHS investigation surrounding the activities of Jimmy Savile in hospitals in Leeds, and was previously involved in the cases regarding murders committed by the doctor, Harold Shipman.

Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “Victim Support provides a lifeline to more than a million victims each year, including thousands in Greater Manchester.

“Without volunteers willing to give up their own time to offer help and support to people at what is a very distressing time, Victim Support wouldn’t be able to provide this invaluable service.

“They make a real difference and on behalf of the people of Greater Manchester, I thank them.”

Victim Support was initially set up in 1974 in Bristol by activists who identified victims as a group with no status in law for obtaining help.

The charity now contacts every victim of crime referred to it by police forces across England and Wales to offer their help.

Plans are currently being finalised for a celebration to mark the anniversary.

For more information about the charity: visit victimsupport.org.uk