I have been volunteering as a supporter to ex-offenders and found it very worthwhile work. It is not always “successful” but even when outcomes have not been what one has hoped for, I have felt appreciated and welcomed. My eyes have been opened at having heard and seen from the people we have helped as to why their lives have gone so wrong and to realise just how hard it is for so many of them to toe the right line again. Most of the ex-offenders I have worked with have looked forward to meeting us weekly and receiving the daily supportive phone calls we make to them which tells them that there are people who are interested in them and make efforts for them to make new lives for themselves outside prison.

Can you imagine what it feels like to be released, perhaps with no-one looking forward to their homecoming or to meet them warmly outside the prison gates? Often such people are not going “home” but to an unknown hostel with unknown residents. But not all have somewhere to go to and may not know where they are going to sleep. Some who may be vulnerable may be met by criminal opportunists looking to offer immediate help in return for no chance of rehabilitation.

I have met ex-offenders who have succeeded and in turn work hard to help others. I have also met some who have disappointingly found it too hard not to succumb and returned to prison quickly, but all have been so appreciative of having us who do not judge them but instead can make them feel good at the way they are progressing.