Prison Volunteer Programme

Supporting change

It's not just our health and social care services that support communities.

Since 2006 we have been supporting the rehabilitation of currently serving offenders by offering volunteering placements in our shops and central offices.

We work with currently serving offenders, from both open and closed prisons. These prisoners are reaching the end of their custodial sentence and are released on temporary licence so that they can start the process of rehabilitation and resettlement.

Evaluation of Prison Volunteer Programme (PVP)

An independent evaluation of the Sue Ryder PVP was launched at the House of Lords in December 2012. This evaluation was fully funded by the Bromley Trust. The report is very positive about the programme and its outcomes and the value to the individual, the charity and the community.

You can download the report here: An evaluation of the Prison Volunteer Programme (pdf)

Is there a risk?

Prisoners accepted on our scheme are considered to be the lowest risk within the prison system and have worked hard to improve their life choices. All the prisoners are fully risk assessed before being released on temporary licence.

Benefits to participants

Volunteering with us gives participants the opportunity to give something back to the community, while equipping them with skills that will increase their chance of finding paid employment on release.

Key facts:

  • we benefit from 111,000 volunteering hours from the prison service each year (equivalent to £688,000 of man hour costs)
  • we work with over 50 prisons across the UK
  • around 400 prisoners volunteer with Sue Ryder every year
  • we have 150 volunteers on this scheme at any one time volunteering across 118 locations
  • ex-offenders cannot prove themselves unless someone gives them a second chance
  • preventing one person from re-offending can save the tax-payer up to £45,000 a year
  • ex-offenders are 13 times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population
  • finding a job is the single most important factor in re-offending - it can cut the risk by half
  • some of our prison volunteers have moved on to paid work with us

Read our PVP case studies


Stephen Moreton, Head of Education and Development at Attend, described Sue Ryder's Prison Volunteer Programme as, "a pioneering scheme with much to teach and inspire the wider volunteer-involving community."

His paper reflects discussions with Carol Davis, Prison Volunteer Programme Coordinator (England and Wales, South).

Attend is a national charity that supports and expands the roles volunteers play in creating healthy communities.

Our supporters

We'd like to thank the following organisations for their support of the Prison Volunteer Programme:

The Big Lottery Fund for supporting PVP England & Wales until June 2015.

The Robertson Trust for supporting the PVP in Scotland until June 2016.

We'd like to thank the following organisations for their previous support of the Prison Volunteer Programme:

  • The Bromley Trust
  • The Gannochy Trust
  • John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust
  • Lloyds TSB Foundation
  • Pilgrim Trust
  • Vandervell Foundation
  • Voluntary Action Fund