Bernadette describes some of her work below:
Some victims of ASB are so afraid of harassment or attacks on their property that they become virtual prisoners in their own home. One elderly lady, who was upset by noisy children outside her ground floor flat, said: "It made me scared to go out and I felt very stressed. It got so bad that I would sit in my flat in the dark with the curtains drawn during the day and at night so they wouldn't know I was there. I have a heart condition and I was really worried that all this stress would make it worse. Having someone from Victim Support visit me on a regular basis really helped me to cope while this was going on. Luckily, the problem is now sorted."
Hurtful taunts and threatening behaviour by a neighbour or local youths can drive people to such extremes, with some afraid to leave their homes. "When the quality of your life is affected by the disturbing actions of others, you can feel so vulnerable, angry and desperate," says Bernadette. "Often people don't know how to deal with a disruptive situation that is unprovoked and could go on for years. They need someone to listen to them and help them through it."
She recalls one case, which has been kept anonymous to protect identities. "A couple in their fifties lived in a council house, he was disabled and she was afraid of the ASB going on in the locality. They were soft targets for local youths," she said. "The youths made their lives a misery, they harassed the couple whenever they went out, they came onto their property and hid in their overgrown garden, leaving rubbish, they damaged their property and their car and would throw things at the house windows to taunt them.
"The couple were so upset and frightened, that they retreated into the back rooms of their home where they couldn't be seen from outside, and rarely went out for fear of meeting the youths. The local authority and the police became involved and intervened, speaking to parents and dealing with the youngsters - but the couple needed their own support to help them take control of the situation. I was able to talk regularly on the phone with the couple, to reassure, offer advice and importantly I was able to liaise with all the agencies involved and update the couple on how things were progressing.
Bernadette adds: "Happily it got to the point where the couple got over their fear of the situation and started to take control. They weren't scared in their own home and the woman began to drive her car again. One day she saw a youth standing in the middle of the road, blocking her way. She calmly asked him to move - and he did. No trouble."
For those people who are experiencing antisocial behaviour, the new service is ready to help. It offers victims both emotional and practical support, reassurance that their ASB issues are being listened to and that action is being taken.
Advocacy to the agencies involved and one-to-one court support is offered and victims are helped to understand the complicated processes involved in tackling ASB, by helping them keep incident logs, for example.
"Anybody can become a victim of ASB, through circumstances often beyond their control but there is no need to suffer in silence any more. I am here to listen to you and offer my support."
Contact the ASB Victim Support service on 02380 240607 or email Bernadette at firstname.lastname@example.org