Volunteering is about making a difference. That difference can be big or small, it can be for one person, or whole communities, whether connected by geography of experience, and it can also make a difference to the person volunteering.
Some volunteer roles offer a chance to make big differences to many people. If you believe that everyone in custody deserves to be treated fairly, and are interested in a role that gives insight into a world that few people see, you might want to find out more about the local Independent Monitoring Board.
Volunteer board members monitor activity across prisons at Lancaster Farms, Kirkham, Preston, and Wymott. They talk to prisoners to make sure they are treated fairly, and are given the support they need to not reoffend, and rebuild their lives. Every year the Board writes a report that goes directly to the Prisons Minister.
Nigel Rourke is a member of the IMB at Lancaster Farms. “You see the criminal justice system from the inside and work as part of a really dedicated team,” he explains. “Anyone over 18 can apply – prisoners come from all backgrounds and so should our members.”
Board members have full access to the prison in order to undertake the role, and although this role is voluntary, travel, childcare and loss of earnings expenses are available; comprehensive training and support is also provided.
“Every visit is different and challenging,” adds Nigel. “The issues raised by the men and opportunities to gain an insight into life behind bars provides a unique experience.”
Volunteers across England and Wales come from all walks of life including students, firefighters, small business owners, teachers, health professionals, and people who want to strengthen their skills as part of a life or career change.
This role could be the most rewarding thing you have ever done. You will make a real, positive difference not only to prison life, but also to the lives of prisoners’ families, whilst making their chances of success once they complete their sentence all that much better.
Applicants undergo a selection and vetting process, which can take a few months, ahead of being formally appointed by Ministers. If you are interested, you can apply directly at https://www.imb.org.uk/13738-2/, or contact Lancaster District CVS to discuss further.