Meet Leona, one of our volunteer befrienders

I'm proud to be a volunteer at Pact.

I’ve been volunteering with Pact since February 2018. My role as a befriender is to support people who have a loved one in prison. Often, family members and friends in this situation just need someone to listen to them as they deal with the challenges of being separated from their loved ones under difficult circumstances. The opportunity to 'be there' for someone in this unique way is very rewarding.

I volunteer for about four hours each month. This involves me contacting the people I am befriending on the telephone at a time that is convenient for us both. Each call usually lasts about half an hour. During this time, the ‘befriendee’ lets me know how things have been going for them since we last talked. I am there mostly to listen, but I also let them know if there are any Pact services (or other related services) that may help them or be useful for them to know about.

Although it takes time to build up trust - and our calls are only twice a month - my favourite part of the role is developing a genuine relationship with family members. It’s an honour and a joy to meet these brave people and walk with them on their journey. I admire their resilience and courage and I’ve learned a lot about the importance of having patience and perseverance. Often, people will tell me that it has truly helped them to have someone ‘outside’ their situation listen to them in such a kind and compassionate way. That’s a wonderful thing to hear and makes me proud to be a volunteer at Pact.

From the outset I’ve felt very supported in my role. Pact provides excellent in-person training and there have been continuing online training courses as well. The Volunteer Managers and Coordinators are always a phone call or email away if I need anything – I very much appreciate that!

But what makes Pact special is this: at Pact, people care. They care about prisoners, the families of prisoners, the volunteers - and Pact people care about each other. I have found a sense of genuine respect in this work environment and a commitment to helping others to move forward in hope. Pact volunteers genuinely care about prisoners and their families often when the rest of the world seems to want to ignore them. If you have a call in your heart to walk towards these people when others want to walk away – Pact is the place for you.

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