Who are we?
Prisoners’ Families Helpline is a free and confidential service for anyone who is affected by the imprisonment of a family member or friend. We are co-ordinated by Action for Prisoners’ Families but calls are taken by 5 support groups across the country. There are at present vacancies for volunteers in London, Cambridge and Durham. If you are interested, please call the Helpline on 0808 808 2003.
Why are we here?
When someone is sent to prison, they may feel as if they too, are serving a sentence. They may feel confused or lonely and would like someone to talk to. Often they have questions about the prison system or visiting and keeping in touch.
What can we do?
We provide information and guidance about prisons in England and Wales. We also link families with different services and local support groups.
We give information over the phone and also have a range of printed information sheets that can be sent to callers. Examples include:
Who can help?
Keeping in touch.
Home Detention Curfew (tagging)
Help with travel costs to prison
Talking to the children about imprisonment
and many more.
As well as providing information, we offer non-judgemental support and a listening ear. Callers are encouraged to talk things through.
What commitment do we want from you?
We ask you to give 2 to 4 hours per week to work on the helpline. Ideally, volunteers should commit for at least six months. We understand that you may have other commitments such as holidays and exams. We will accommodate volunteers in these situations but ask for reasonable notice to be given, so that we can plan alternative cover.
All volunteer will have to agree to be security checked. Information will be treated in confidence and only offences that could put callers at risk will exclude applicants from volunteering.
Do you need to have worked on a helpline before? No previous experience is required. Volunteers must be able to show that they have the ability to work with other people, understand the issues faced by callers and have the ability to be trained to work on the helpline.
Will training will you be given?
Volunteers will have to attend the equivalent of two days of training. Training will include:
Creating a framework for a call
Effective use of questions
Blocks to effective communication
After the initial compulsory training there will be training sessions on a broad range of related subjects such as; A day in the life of a prison, Assisted Prison Visits Scheme (APVU), Drugs Awareness and a visit to a prison.
What support will you receive while volunteering?
You will work as part of a small team. There will always be someone available to assist and advise you while on calls as well as support you at the end of a shift.
Will it cost you to volunteer?
Travelling expenses will be reimbursed.
What skills can you expect to develop?
The following skills and qualities can be gained while working as a helpline volunteer;