[ Back ]

Service users inspired to volunteer after completing their sentence

19 February 2016

A scheme in which individuals perform community work as part of their court order has been so inspiring for two participants that they have decided to carry on despite completing their sentence.

Jason* was sentenced to 100 hours unpaid work (known as Community Payback) for a fraud offence.

Jason says that he got so much out of his Community Payback placement helping Stonepillow Restore, a company who recycle furniture and white goods that have been donated by the public to individuals on low incomes in the area, that he returned as a volunteer.  

While completing his hours of unpaid work he has helped to cover the service and sales desk and taught skills to other volunteers. The sales made by the social enterprise help Stonepillow Restore to fund their wider community work. Now Jason continues to boost the organisation’s funds as a volunteer.

He said: “I was placed on an individual placement at Stonepillow Restore and was allocated initially to the front desk, taking calls and requests for furniture from various members of the public.

“When Restore realised that I had IT skills they asked me to help sell items on eBay to raise funds.

“This was successful and I have managed to sell a lot of goods on their behalf.

“Having completed my hours, I volunteer my service part-time each week as I value the charity's work, enjoy working with the team and have established several good relationships at Restore."

The manager at Stonepillow Restore said Jason has been a great help and impressed them with his good IT skills. They were very pleased when he decided to continue volunteering with them.  

KSS CRC Probation Service Officer Jackie Glower said: “During his order Jason was very proactive and would even come in at the weekend if the company was short-staffed. He has shown himself to be a real asset to the organisation and has learnt new skills along the way. The placement was also very rewarding for Jason because he understood the purpose and value of the work he was doing for the company.”

Jason isn’t alone in finding that the scheme has inspired him to volunteer. In August 2015, Sarah* was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work. She completed all her hours in January of this year. She is now volunteering at the Red Cross Shop where she completed her Community Payback.

She said: “I believe that the work provides you with the opportunity to learn new skills particularly people skills through meeting and working with new people and doing something really worthwhile for the community. As well as learning new skills, it helps you to build your self-belief.

It gave me confidence, in a safe environment, to reinforce my life skills and it helped my rehabilitation. The team I work with are great and very supportive. Working in the shop is a really positive experience.”

Unpaid work is a sentence available to courts and is intended as both a punishment and means by which someone can make amends to the community for the harm they have caused. Our approach to Community Payback is to make it engaging for service users so it improves their work ethic in general and, more specifically, so it makes them more receptive to learning new skills that will increase their chances of getting a job and ultimately stay out of trouble.

The courts can sentence anything between 40 and 300 hours of unpaid work depending on the seriousness of the crime or the person's record.

*Jason and Sarah’s names have been changed to protect their identity

*photo is a stock image

Latest personal stories

Kevin

A former drug addict has become a successful paid chef a year after his release from prison.

Experience of volunteer Aron

When I first met John*, he came across as being very shy and quiet. I attended an initial meeting where I met with Johnís Probation Officer and we agreed actions and goals for him to take to help aid his rehabilitation and tackle the issues that have led him to commit the crime in the first place.

The help of volunteer David

I was asked to work with Andrew* to help improve his self-esteem and decision making skills which led to his drug abuse. At our regular meetings, we explored solutions to his issues and obstacles to his future aspirations. Slowly through this work, his perceptions about himself began to change from feelings of guilty and helplessness, to being able to acknowledge his own personal strengths and attributes.