Volunteer with us

Release from prison can be daunting for many – overwhelming for some. Our clients often don’t know what direction they want to take in life, and they may have no one waiting for them on the outside.

As a volunteer mentor with South West Community Chaplaincy you can make all the difference – playing a crucial part in a prisoner’s life by supporting them as they find their feet in the community.

Why volunteer with SWCC?

  • Make a positive difference to other people's lives
  • Learn new skills
  • Meet new people
  • Help to reduce crime and make our communities safer

Who will you be working with?

Most of our clients are first met in one of the three Devon prisons: Dartmoor, Exeter or Channings Wood. We also work with women at HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire. Our clients are men and women of all ages.

We are normally referred to a new client by the chaplain in the prison, or by probation. One of our team of community chaplains then visits the client to learn more about them. If we feel we can support them, we will then allocate a volunteer in their community to work with them. All volunteers have their travel and expenses reimbursed by SWCC.

What is it like being a volunteer?

When you join us as a volunteer mentor, we’ll give you a full induction, plus regular training. These are opportunities to meet other volunteers and to learn new skills.

The induction covers a range of areas including:

  • Communication skills
  • Challenges and obstacles that prison leavers face
  • Establishing and building a mentoring relationship
  • How to facilitate a mentoring session
  • Setting safe boundaries and managing risk

Our ongoing training covers such topics as mental health awareness, understanding the criminal justice system and working with substance misuse issues.

As an SWCC volunteer, you’re welcome to call our office-based team at any time to ask questions about any aspect of your client work.

Things to bear in mind

We do ask that you’re able to set aside 2-3 hours a week for your work with clients, and that you’ll be able to commit to your work with us for at least a year.

Our clients can be challenging. While they’ll understand that you’re there to help them, some people may test you to see if you can be trusted. Don’t worry – we’ll give you the skills to work confidently and build trust and a rapport with the clients you work with.

Take it from us, the rewards of developing a trusting working relationship with a client, and seeing them rebuild their lives, are huge.

Next steps

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a volunteer mentor with South West Community Chaplaincy, email us or call us on the details below.