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Victim Support Europe: Growing Our People with their Strengths

By September 3, 2018February 1st, 2021News, Publications

As any leader will agree, there are a multitude of ways you can invest in your organisation. There’s always something new that promises to make our establishments better. But smart investing requires priorities, a strategy about where to put your resources first. And those priorities, according to Victim Support Europe, must start with the people, with the team.

VSE’s Executive Director Levent Altan has led the organization since November 2014. What was a couple of colleagues in VSE’s headquarters 5 years ago has grown over the years to 8 Brussels Office team members, with 29% increase in membership and income growth by 200% through a range of funding sources by the end of 2017.

VSE’s Brussels Office team: Ruth Mary Shrimpling, Levent Altan, Marina Kazakova, Jeanette Fava, Mazen Alsiufi, Aleksandra Ivankovic

The years 2018 turned up to be an exciting and an unprecedented time as we continue to grow and expand as an organization to meet the ever-increasing demand in our services. In addition to our second vice president Richard Olszewski, we welcomed new board members from Germany, Great Britain and Russia. In total, our board has got representatives from 8 countries. We have expanded our map of victim support members around Europe; we are planning numerous workshops and exchange programs for VSE members in 2018-2019; not to mention the fact that our events continue to flourish thanks to the incredible commitment of individuals and member organisations who assist us in event management work.

VSE and most of its partners aren’t selling a product, they’re providing a service. Service-based NGOs are built by people and for people. Hand on heart, the most valuable investment in a service-based organisation is an investment in people who work for it.

“In many NGO’s, new ideas and initiatives are actually discouraged,” explains Marina Kazakova, VSE’s new Communications Officer. “This is particularly true in organizations established decades ago, where methods of working are cast in concrete and where there is no space to exploit new methods of working. At VSE it’s not like this. The management finds ways to access that hidden resource to develop the organization by increasing motivation and creativity from the people who already work here and by investing in new employees.”

Meet our extended Brussels Office Team

VSE’s Brussels Office team welcomed 5 new staff members during 2018.
Mazen Alsiufi, our Finance Officer, joined VSE in May 2018. Prior to that, Mazen held Finance Coordinator roles with ‘Save The Children International’ and ‘Syrian Arab Red Crescent’.

Marina Kazakova, VSE’s new Communications Officer started working at VSE in July 2018. A newsperson at heart, Marina sees creativity and storytelling as the binding thread in her career. She is currently the Continental Europe Committee’s Representative to the National Union of Journalsts’ New Media Industrial Council (NMIC), a ‘No Hate Speech Ambassador’ certified by the European Commission (Erasmus+), busy with launching a counter-narrative art campaign 2019 called “KnowHate”, and is recently working on her PhD on lyric film-poetry at LUCA School of Arts (KU Leuven).

Ruth Mary Shrimpling joined VSE as Policy Officer in August 2018. With an academic background in Law and professional experience working in social services, Ruth is an adamant defender of universal human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all individuals and groups. Prior to joining VSE, Ruth campaigned for the universal right to healthcare on behalf of Médecins du Monde, where she also spent four years working on the frontline with the most excluded members of our society.

Léa Meindre-Chautrand, VSE’s new Intern-Policy Assistant, supports VSE team in project management, funding proposals and desk research. Before joining VSE, Léa worked with the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) in Brussels and the Human Rights House Foundation in Geneva where she gained experience in UN and EU advocacy, research and legal analysis on the human rights situation in different countries. 

Integration of organizational goals with individual goals as a basis of growth

People like to be recognized and valued for what they contribute to the workplace.  Whether it involves incorporating personal interests or expanding the borders of their job descriptions, people generally enjoy the opportunity to personalize the job in a way that enhances their work performance.

Thereupon, VSE stimulates its employees to work on their passion projects. Integration of organizational goals with individual goals is one of the corner stones of our recent strategy.

“I think it’s important for management to know what each employee ultimately wants to accomplish in his or her career and what their professional and personal interests are. I can keep those goals in mind as we grow the organisation and face new opportunities that could align with our employees’ goals”, says Levent.

In 2019, VSE is committed to three strategic priorities that are directly aligned with the individual expertise and aims of its team members: victims with disabilities, victims of hate crimes and victims of cyber crimes.

By our 30th anniversary, we hope to see the effects of aligning the VSE’s goals with the employees’ interests and its impact on increasing our organizational performance.


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