The findings of two reports into the state of volunteering in prisons across England and Wales have been released, with Mosaic one of 14 organisations selected as a case study to support the research.
Led by Clinks, the national infrastructure organisation supporting voluntary sector organisations in the Criminal Justice System, and User Voice, an ex-offender led charity, the two reports were commissioned by Andrew Selous MP, Minister for Prisons, Probation and Rehabilitation, as part of the Valuing Volunteering in the Criminal Justice System project.
Mosaic was chosen by Clinks to support the research because of its accredited ‘through the gate’ one-to-one Ex-Offender mentoring programme.
Clinks highlighted that the programme is of particular benefit to those looking to:
- Establish a mentoring service in multiple prisons
- Build robust volunteer recruitment and training procedures
- Adapt their service model to lessen the time demands placed on volunteers by security vetting
A specific example of Mosaic’s ex-offender programme in action at Feltham Community Chaplaincy Trust is also included in the research.
This outlines the benefits of prison volunteering, the barriers and supports, current examples of good practice and gaps, and Clinks’ recommendations about what could increase the volume and quality levels of volunteering.
- Clear roles should be identified for volunteers, and their work should be strategically integrated
- Prisons and partners should proactively recruit volunteers from as diverse a base as possible
- Volunteering should receive a consistent level of coordination and support
Researched and written by User Voice, this outlines the results of a peer-led consultation exploring perceptions of prison volunteering from the perspective of service users.
The findings were separated into three key themes:
- Experience of volunteers and volunteering
- Characteristics of volunteers
- Delivering voluntary services in prison
Andrew Selous MP provided the foreword to the Valuing volunteers in prison: a review of volunteer involvement report. In this he comments: “Volunteering can help people acquire skills, increase their self-confidence, and support them into jobs.
“It can also open up closed institutions making them more visible to the public, garnering the skills of people in the community and civic resources to support rehabilitation and engaging communities, making them more able and willing to welcome people back on release from prison.
“I want to see more volunteers in our prisons, and clearly more can be done. That is why I asked Clinks to uncover good practice, address gaps, and point out any barriers to implementing more volunteering schemes in prisons.”
Clinks conducted 72 interviews with staff in prisons across England and Wales, surveyed over 800 volunteers and volunteer managers across 121 prisons, and wrote up 14 in-depth case studies of local approaches. User Voice held five focus groups engaging a total of 33 current service users and six ex-service users across the South East, North East and North West.
With the backing of headline sponsor and supporter, the Al Faisal Foundation, Mosaic currently has a mentoring presence in 14 prisons across England:
- London and South East: HMP Belmarsh, HMP Brixton, HMP/YOI Isis, HMP Pentonville, HMP/YOI Feltham, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, HMP Rochester, HMP Woodhill AND Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre
- West Midlands: HMP/YOI Brinsford
- North West: HMP Manchester and HMP Styal (pilot scheme with women)
- Yorkshire: HMP Wealstun and HMP Leeds
Mosaic is particularly thankful to our headline supporter The Al Faisal without Borders Foundation for their generous support of the ex-offender mentoring programme.