The South Carolina Victim Assistance Network is a non-profit that advocates for all crime victims and those who serve them to ensure they have the help and resources they need. We jumped on a call with Katie Coleman, an attorney at SCVAN to learn more about how they are using Gruveo to provide legal services to crime victims in South Carolina.
Can you tell us about your organization?
SCVAN is made of up five departments. Our legal department provides holistic legal services to crime victims throughout South Carolina including information and referral, no-cost consultations with our staff attorneys, and direct representation in South Carolina’s criminal courts to enforce the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights and civil courts for restraining orders, orders of protection, employment law, family law, and probate. We also provide technical assistance, trainings, education, and outreach to those in our field and the community at large.
In 2018, we were awarded a U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime subgrant through the National Crime Victim Law Institute to increase legal access to rural crime victims using technology. Our Reaching Rural project leverages technology to increase legal access through videoconferencing to deliver remote legal services and a secure website portal which will provide volunteer attorneys with templates and trainings to represent these crime victims.
Our six targeted counties are high poverty and high crime areas that lack infrastructure, resources, and attorneys. Many of these folks don’t have internet or computer access, the means to pay a lawyer, or the ability to travel hours away to meet with a lawyer – they do have smartphones, though, which we wanted to use as an access point.
What kind of interactions do you use Gruveo for?
We use Gruveo as a video conferencing tool to provide legal services remotely. We established technology hubs in our targeted counties called Victims’ Rights Centers. Victims can use Gruveo on their computer or smartphone to engage in remote legal services with SCVAN and volunteer attorneys. We also use Gruveo for legal department meetings since we have 3 offices around the state.
How did you learn about Gruveo?
The National Network to End Domestic Violence is a project partner and recommended Gruveo to us.
How long have you been using the tool?
We have used the service for about six months now.
There are mainstream apps for video conferencing like Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime. What prompted you to look for an alternative?
Safety, privacy, and accessibility are big concerns in our line of work, and the fact that Gruveo is encrypted, browser-based (no account or app needed), and simple makes it ideal for our use.
Is there a Gruveo feature that you find particularly useful?
There are lots! The fact that clients can launch the calls from a simple link is fantastic. Customized permanent links and private call rooms increase victim privacy, and the ability to unlock the call to add more attorneys and a language line for non-English speaking victims is amazing.
What kind of impact has Gruveo had on your work?
It helps us increase legal access in a simple, safe, and effective way. Victims feel more empowered and emotionally connected by interacting with our attorneys on video.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you recommend Gruveo to other businesses in you industry?
10! We really love Gruveo and think it is a phenomenal product.
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