Volunteers undergo comprehensive training, focused around how to build safe, boundaried befriending relationships. They never share personal information with the people they befriend, and we have stringent safeguarding processes in place to ensure volunteers are protected at all times.
Once a volunteer has completed their onboarding and training, they will each select two (or more) people in prison who they would like to support.
Every fortnight volunteers write a letter, using a pseudonym, directly to the person in prison. The prisoner's letters are sent to the New Bridge office where our staff redirect them out to volunteers' home addresses.
Every month volunteers attend their volunteer support group meeting, where they discuss their correspondence and visits and have the opportunity to raise any concerns about the relationship or the prisoner's welfare in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. Support groups are spread across the country, and volunteers can choose to join one locally that meets in person, or one that meets via zoom with volunteers from across the country.
Every month volunteers submit data to New Bridge, confirming the number of letters exchanged and visits made, as well as any expenses incurred.
Every 3-4 months volunteers travel to visit each prisoner, with the first visit only taking place once they have been corresponding for 6 months. All travel expenses are reimbursed.
Could I take this opportunity to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated the visit I received from my befriender. Even though it was the 1st visit we has it went really smooth and did my mental health a world of good. I would recommend any befrienders you have to try and organise a visit as I’m sure it will be as much as a positive visit as it was for me
In addition to letters and visits, volunteers can also connect with prisoners through a secure prisoner email service, as well as phone calls, if they would like to. We hope to be able to add video visits to the list of options in the coming months.
Every year volunteers are invited to attend our annual Volunteer Conference, where they can network with other volunteers and learn more about the criminal justice system from a variety of engaging speakers. You can read about our most recent conference here.
Volunteers must agree to never: give money or gifts; share addresses, phone numbers or personal details; accede to any requests to contact the prisoner's friends or family on their behalf.
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