After being visited by Pact in February 2015, a group of churches in Latvia’s capital city, Riga, have developed a programme based on Pact’s Basic Caring Communities (BaCC) - an initiative which provides groups of trained volunteers to offer daily support to an ex-prisoner, helping him or her to find their feet in the community in the first crucial months after release.

Each BaCC group is made up of four volunteers motivated by their Christian faith, and an ex-offender who has chosen to participate. Volunteers provide practical help and support in order to help ex-prisoners to make a fresh start and avoid committing further crime.

Pact’s CEO and BaCC Service Manager met with senior representatives of the Latvian Prison Administration and Probation Services and provided direct training to Martin Kruklis, the leader of Catholic Prison Chaplaincy in Latvia and to a group of community members who wished to become volunteers.

The launch of this programme is a very significant moment in the development of community and faith based action in the justice sector in Latvia - where traditionally - the idea of voluntary action to support through the gate resettlement has been frowned upon by prison and probation services, and where the legacy of the Soviet era has meant that, unlike in the UK, voluntarism and faith based social action, is under-developed.

In 2016, Pact will be visiting Romania and Croatia in the hope of sharing some of our hard won experience with the emerging voluntary sectors in these countries.

To find out more about BaCC, please click here.