Mirriam, one of the last Sue Ryder PVP participants from HM Holloway Prison, shares her volunteering experience and the impact PVP has had on her life.
"When I heard the name Sue Ryder, I employed my gamut of trying to wing it - my mind conjured up an image of some sort of charity shop selling second hand clothes. Put simply, I was utterly wrong.
"Charity shops are just one of the ways in which Sue Ryder raises funds to support their health and social care services across the UK. There is much more to this wonderful organisation than I could have known."
An invaluable opportunity
"Going to prison is probably one of the lowest points for most individuals, particularly if one had a job and a career prior to this. Your initial thoughts are that you have reached the end of the road, that you are a total outcast and utterly useless. Thank goodness for organisations such as Sue Ryder. I am one of the lucky few to have been taken up on the PVP programme, and it is no exaggeration to say that it has changed my grim outlook of life after prison to a brighter one.
"Being allowed to work alongside staff and being treated with
appreciation and respect by all helped me regain my self-esteem and confidence - helping me overcome the main barriers I feared would hold me back on my release. Working at Sue Ryder gives you a sense of normality, allowing you to work in a formal work environment. It also gives you a sense of perspective and the opportunity to rediscover and use your people, time management, and organisational skills.
"I found all the members of staff at the charity I volunteerd in were supportive and understanding of my ’s situation and I felt supported emotionally. This had a positive effect on myself as well as my, who I felt looked at mein a different light. I was no longer an embarrassment, but someone with potential and sense of purpose.
"Sue Ryder also helps PVP participants develop transferable skills through in-house courses covering areas such as retail, IT, and management to mention a few. These are invaluable, as for many offenders they are the only qualifications they have been given the chance to develop."
Thank you for giving us hope
"I have been immensely touched by the way that Sue Ryder is proactively leading the way in supporting offender rehabilitation. This will, no doubt, in the long run, be of benefit to society as a whole through a reduction in re-offending rates. Something that will be achieved through offering PVP participants the opportunity to apply for jobs within the charity, their suitability based on qualification and skills they have gained on the programme – not on their personal history. Those who choose to work elsewhere are provided with credible references, allowing them to rebuild their lives as best they can.
"Sue Ryder’s initiative has not gone unrecognised, and quite rightly to. It has picked up awards such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award and the CIPD Award for diversity, and was . also runner-up in both The Big Lottery Fund Community Award and the Education and Training Award.
"PVP is for me, an initiative to be applauded by at all levels. I am in no doubt that I speak for many male and female ex-offenders or serving offenders, as well as family and friends of those on the programme, by saying thank you to Sue Ryder for giving us hope."