Meet Camilla, one of our Helpline and Befriending volunteers.

It is honestly one of the best things I have ever done.

Q: How did you first come into contact with Pact?

A: I have always been interested in working within the criminal justice system, and now that my children are a bit older, and I have slightly more free time, I started looking into opportunities to volunteer in the sector. I came across Pact in my research and I applied for a role at HMP Bristol, working with Family Services at the Visitors' Centre, and in the tea bar. I started there in January 2020 and then, when the pandemic hit, I took up additional remote volunteering opportunities in the Befriending and Prisoners' Families Helpline services, with full encouragement from the Family Services team. 

Q: What made you want to volunteer with an organisation like Pact?

I liked the idea of being able to work with families and family members with loved ones in custody - in particular, helping to support them through what can often be a lonely and challenging time. Also, Pact seemed like a supportive and friendly organisation to be a part of as a volunteer (which it is!)

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your role?

I currently support seven people through the Befriending service - there's a real mix of ages and experiences. I usually speak to them on the phone once or twice a week to provide emotional and practical support, or sometimes just to chat and catch up. Then, on the Prisoners' Families Helpline, I provide practical support and signposting - and I answer all sorts of questions. I deal with a wide range of sometimes complex and challenging situations. It can be intense, but it is rewarding and never dull! I also still work with families at the HMP Bristol Visitors' Centre and am looking forward to being back there soon, when visits restart. 

Q: What makes you proud to volunteer for Pact?

Everything! I love the teams I work with, who are all so encouraging and supportive. I am proud that we can hopefully make a difference in someone's life at what is a hard time for them, by listening and supporting them in a variety of ways. 

Q: What new skills have you learned through your role?

I have gained so much knowledge about the prison and criminal justice systems, both from practical experience, and from the brilliant training I continue to receive from Pact. I have definitely also got better at thinking on my feet, being empathetic and listening. 

Q: What would you say to anyone who was thinking of volunteering with us?

I would very much recommend volunteering with Pact - it is honestly one of the best things I have ever done. It's interesting and rewarding, you never stop learning, and the people you meet are fantastic!

Find out more

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