Supporting people with criminal convictions into Volunteering
What is Giving Time?
Giving Time engages with organisations and people within the criminal justice system to deliver a volunteering brokerage services – helping match people with criminal convictions to volunteering opportunities, both prior to and upon release from prison.
The service is established within HMP Leeds, HMP New Hall and HMP Wealstun and has been delivered in prisons across West Yorkshire for 6 years. During this period the service has developed a well established set of systems, procedures and approaches that allow us to safely and effectively engage with people within the prison system and people with historic offences in the community.
The team works with organisations to help develop suitable opportunities and provides them with a support network, and training and mentoring. If you have a volunteer base or are considering getting volunteers, we can provide advice, guidance and training, toolkits and resources to enable you to confidently involve ex-offenders in your opportunities.
The team also works with serving prisoners, supporting them to access volunteering opportunities whilst in prison. These volunteers are then supported into further volunteering in the community once released.
This initiative was set-up to enable people with criminal convictions to access volunteering, with the aim of reducing re-offending, providing opportunities to gain skills, meet new people, do something positive, increase confidence, improve mental wellbeing, increase social inclusion and ultimately – make a difference.
Sound interesting? Get in touch!
If you’d like to find out more and explore options, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.
Contact the Giving Time team on 0113 2977920 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep up to date with us on twitter @GivingTimeVol
Documents you can Download
If you have criminal convictions and would like to explore the possibility of volunteering then please get in touch! You can download this registration form, complete it and post or email it back to us. One of our support workers will then get in touch to arrange a meeting. You can also find out more about our service and pick up a registration form from Volunteer Centre Leeds. Alternatively you can give us a call on 0113 297 7920 and we will post this registration form to you.Download
This toolkit is designed as a first step for organisations to ensure their volunteering programme is accessible to the prison community. It provides guidelines about what to consider when assessing potential volunteers with criminal convictions, so that recruitment and support processes can be made inclusive and safe for staff, volunteers and service users.Download
This year 5 evaluation was conducted to discover if the Giving Time project has made a difference to the lives of service users and the likely impact on reoffending rates and to identify any areas of learning for future projects. In addition a summative review taking into account previous evaluations has also been undertaken.Download
Answering some of your Questions
Can you visit our organisation to talk about Giving Time?
Yes, Giving Time support workers would be happy to attend your organisation to deliver presentations, workshops or have an informal chat about volunteering.
Can you advise us on how to set up volunteering opportunities for people who have criminal convictions?
Certainly, we can support you with specific requirements as well as provide documents offering guidance. Giving Time also supports a network of organisations – The Volunteer Managers Network – who meet quarterly to share good practice and support one another with their inclusive volunteering.
What level of DBS should we do for our volunteer roles?
It is important to carefully choose the level of DBS that is required for a particular role. If you are uncertain then you can contact NACRO and they will happily give you guidance.
Will you be able to support volunteers to attend the interview?
Giving Time can give a bus ticket to support volunteers to attend their interview. We can also help with interview preparation.
How does volunteering benefit me?
There are so many benefits to volunteering. People often say that it has made them feel more confident and that they have learned new skills. Volunteering can be a great way of meeting new people. For some it relieves boredom and gives a reason to get out of the house and have fun.
Volunteering is also a great way to enhance your CV and meet new people. People often gain work from volunteering either within the organisation that they volunteer for or through a person they have met while volunteering.
What types of volunteering are there?
There are a wide variety of opportunities because we have built relationships with a range of charities. People volunteer in any number of roles such as cooking for homeless people, mentoring people with drug and alcohol problems, caring for animals and much more. We can usually find a volunteer role that meets your interests.
What happens when I meet with the Giving Time support workers?
We will help you to complete a registration form, this will get you to think about the types of volunteering you’d like to do. We will talk about your criminal convictions and identify volunteering opportunities that are suitable for you. We can help you to arrange a volunteer interview and will keep in touch while you apply.
We can also help you identify whether you need to disclose your conviction or not, if it is now spent. If you are required to disclose then we can support you to write a disclosure letter and to plan how you will tell people.
Will volunteering affect my benefits?
The benefits agency are beginning to recognise the value of volunteering as a means of gaining employment. Be sure to inform your Job Centre Advisor about your volunteering placement before starting. It is important that you remember your Job Centre appointments, interviews and other work related commitments must be prioritised over your volunteering to prevent your benefits from being affected. If you are currently on the Work Programme then you can speak to your adviser about incorporating volunteering via Giving Time.
Is volunteering the same as community payback?
Volunteering is very different to community pay back. The main difference is that it is completely voluntary, you choose how much time you would like to give and there are no sanctions if you decide to stop volunteering. You also choose the types of role that particularly interests you.
What if it doesn’t work out at my volunteering?
Sometimes volunteering placements don’t work out. If this is the case we always recommend that you explain to the volunteer coordinator or organisation manager why you don’t want to volunteer anymore. Then, you’re welcome to get in touch with Giving Time and we will help you to find a new volunteer role.