Paul's story - a support at court volunteer
* Please note that the volunteers name has been anonymised at their request
I have been a volunteer with the Nepacs court project for over a year now. We come across people from all walks of life. But they all have one thing in common: they are vulnerable. It doesn’t matter whether they are the defendants or their families and friends.
One of the main reasons that I wanted to volunteer with Nepacs is that I have been through the judicial system myself – just for a short time, over 30 years ago.
I took the law into my own hands and stabbed someone who had threatened a member of my family. This led to my being remanded in custody in Durham Prison.
Alone, shut in a cell for 23 hours a day, with no real communication with my family or the outside world I had no support and nor did my family. Nepacs wasn’t there at court to help to pick up the pieces as they are now.
My wife had to get three buses to visit me. She hardly left the house because of what she felt was the gossip and finger pointing that was going on. It’s not only the defendant that’s doing the sentence but families who have to go through their own daily lives doing a hidden sentence. That is why I am such a strong believer in the work that Nepacs do.
It is also vital to the wellbeing of defendants or those who receive a custodial sentence that support is given. This helps them prepare for what is for many a journey into the unknown.
My experience has made me determined to support others through the judicial system and volunteering with Nepacs is an excellent way to do this.