Case studies

Working with Brixton Prison

We regularly work with prisoners from Brixton Prison, and below is the experience of one volunteer who joined our head office and went on to gain a temporary paid position.

"I used to think a charity was full of volunteers, where nobody gets paid, but it’s nothing like that at all – it operates just like a normal company.

"When Sue Ryder came to Brixton I was lucky enough to meet with Carol Davis, who’s head of volunteering. After speaking to her I gave her CV. I left it a few weeks and kept telling my sister to call her to find out if they’d found anything for me yet. Eventually I got a message to say I’d got an interview with them and they’d like me to go in. So I was very chuffed about that, and that was I think, my very first ROTL (release on temporary licence) experience.

"I went off to meet with Carol at the head office in Euston, had a tour of the office and got to meet a few people. They liked me, luckily, and they asked me to volunteer there Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, and help out with their reception.

"I was there for a few months and it was coming close to me being released, I then wondered ‘what am I going to do when I’m released? I don’t have a job, what should I do?’ And then I thought to myself, why don’t I carry on volunteering there, it can only serve me well in the experience that I’m getting. So I asked if I could carry on and they were more than happy for me to continue. I think I volunteered there for about five months maybe, and a job came up for a Health and Social Care Team Administrator as maternity leave, basically I was invited to apply for that. Luckily I go the job.

"Initially it was only meant to be a six month contract, that got extended three or four times and ended up being a year in total. In that year I had progressed to being the Executive PA to the Director of Health and Social Care as well.  

"Just as that contract was coming to an end after a year, two days before my last day, I was asked if I’d like to continue on and I said yes – I hadn’t got another job to go to at the moment.  So they asked me if I’d consider being the Executive PA to the Director of People and the Director of Fundraising.

"The majority of the office probably don’t even know I was a prisoner. My immediate team obviously knew I was in prison. They were all very fascinated by having someone from prison working there, they were all intrigued and asking questions and always wanted to know what it was like. I was just treated like a member of the team. There was never been any suspicion like ‘oh god he’s doing this’, or ‘he’s doing that’. Nothing. They’re just brilliant people to work with. Brilliant people."