Meet Alex, one of our volunteer play workers

There are so many opportunities at Pact to improve yourself and make a real difference to other people.

Q: How long have you been volunteering with Pact?

A: I’ve been volunteering for Pact since January 2019. I started as a play worker but more recently I’ve also been shadowing and supporting my colleague who does individual casework in the prison.

Q: What made you want to volunteer with Pact?

A: I’m a Forensic Psychology student and I have qualifications as a teacher for pre-school and primary school, so volunteering with Pact was a chance to bring together the things I know best! But more than that, I was really impressed Pact’s values and goals, focusing on families and how important they are in the rehabilitation process. I’m really interested in working within the criminal justice system to provide support to people affected by imprisonment so volunteering with Pact gives me the opportunity to see how even simple contact with families and loved ones can make a significant difference to a prisoner’s life.

Q: What is your favourite part of your role?

A: My favourite part of the role is seeing the smile on both the prisoner’s face and their loved ones’ faces after creating the contact between them. I am happy when I see that what I have done for them makes them happy and makes a difference in their lives.

Q: Tell us about what a typical volunteer day looks like for you?

A: A typical day of mine starts at 8am with checking emails and planning the day ahead. Between 8.30am and 9am I’ll start seeing the people on my caseload, which involves gathering more information, completing triage forms, or sometimes providing emotional support. After the last appointment, which is usually at 11.30am, I’ll go to the office to record all of my meetings on the prison database and do any follow-up such as making phone calls, liaising with community services and sending more emails. At around 1.45pm I’ll go to the prison Visits Hall to set everything up for the play session and I’ll spend the next two hours there, offering play, support and advocacy to the families coming to see their loved ones.

Q: What support have you had from Pact to help you as a volunteer?

A: Pact has provided me with lots of different training courses throughout the year, as well as giving me the opportunity to spend time and get more experience with them as part of my University placement. I have also been giving the opportunity to shadow one of my colleagues doing individual casework which I’ve found really interesting. It’s helped me to improve my skills and gain more confidence and I hope to build on this even more in the future.

Q: How long do you spend volunteering in a htypical week or month?

A: I usually do 10 hours per week, but sometimes it can be up to 16 hours.

Q: Can you tell us about a time/experience that’s made you feel good about volunteering?

A: There are so many opportunities at Pact to improve yourself and make a real difference to other people. My managers are really supportive and their feedback has increased my self-confidence – so volunteering has been a really positive experience for me as well as the people I am helping.

Q: Do you think anyone can be a volunteer? Why?

A: I think to be a volunteer you need a desire to provide support to a group of people without expecting anything in return: just a desire to help others. If you’ve got that desire and you’re willing to give up a bit of your time to change something, you can be a volunteer.

Q: Has volunteering taught you any new skills?

A: Volunteering has helped me to improve some of my skills, such as communication and listening, motivation and commitment and planning. I have also gained some new ones, such as self-awareness and a high level of security awareness, flexibility and the ability to manage different situations with an element of personal risk, using a systematic approach.

Q: What makes volunteering with Pact special?

A: Volunteering with Pact is special because you’re really making a difference and playing a role in the rehabilitation process. You can be the reason someone smiled today maybe by just giving them some good news.

Q: What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering with Pact? Why should people volunteer with Pact?

A: Family is about love, trust and support and I believe those are things we should all experience and have in our lives. Supporting prisoners to strengthen or rebuild their family relationships means you can bring those three things – love, trust and support – to other people’s lives. Bringing people together means that they’re likely to be happier and want to stay out of trouble. So as a Pact volunteer you can also help to give people a reason to live a crime free life.

If you want to find out more about Alex's role or if you have any questions about volunteering with Pact, get in touch with us on [email protected].