How volunteering can change lives

Michael Isherwood from Volunteer Centre Leeds Prisoner and Ex Offender Project writes about its new service to support under 18s with convictions or who are at risk of offending.

Small group in silhouette

Background and Motivation 

The success of Volunteer Centre Leeds' Prisoner and Ex Offender Project over the last year has demonstrated the positive impact that volunteering can have on peoples lives, especially when they have barriers to overcome. For many young people with convictions attempting to get over these barriers can be overwhelming. 

Finding Solutions

The Prisoners and Ex Offenders Project at Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) has launched a new service to support organisations to engage young people with convictions or who are at risk of offending into worthwhile and rewarding volunteering roles across Leeds, to help them overcome obstacles and progress towards their goals.

Forming Partnerships

The scheme is targeting those aged under 18 and has attracted support from many organisations offering opportunities  in a variety of roles around the city including VAL, RSPCA, Emmaus, The Conservation Volunteers and several theatre and creative arts charities and third sector organisations. It has been working with Leeds Youth Offending Service, St Giles Trust Choices Programme and other youth provisions around the city to identify young people who would benefit from the scheme.

Supporting Volunteer Involving Organisations

By joining the project organisations benefit from access to the untapped potential, talent and enthusiasm that young people can offer. The project can provide support for volunteer managers including training, operational advice, membership of the Leeds Volunteer Managers' Network as well as promoting the work you do. Getting involved means you will be part of a ground breaking project that has been highlighted by NCVO and the Cabinet Office as one of the most innovative in the country.  

By joining the project organisations benefit from access to the untapped potential, talent and enthusiasm that young people can offer." 

Making A Difference 

Volunteers learn new skills to help them achieve more. This can facilitate engagement in education, society and overall positive behaviour to enable them to develop personally and improve confidence and self esteem. They get the chance to add experience and referees to their CV, identify new strengths and get to make informed decisions about their actions, their future and play a positive role in their wider community.

"Getting involved means you will be part of a ground breaking project that has been highlighted by NCVO and the Cabinet Office as one of the most innovative in the country."

Playing your part

Getting involved is easy, simply get in touch or ask at the Volunteer Centre. Any one can make a referral or young people can refer themselves. The registration process is a friendly chat to identify what opportunities or interests would be best suited. We’re even looking for young people to join a steering group to point things in the right direction and for designers and artists to help promote the project.

To find out more or to get involved email Laura Elson, Prisoner and Ex-offender Volunteer Coordinator, on laura.elson@val.org.uk, or call 0113 297 7920.

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