Volunteer opportunities

There are lots of ways to support Nepacs and prisoner's families in the North East by volunteering. Nepacs was started by volunteers more than 135 years ago and today volunteers are still at the very heart of everything we do. Our team of dedicated volunteers are helping to support prisoner's families and friends, and are also helping to promote the important role of family ties in assisting an offender's rehabilitation.

There are a wide variety of opportunities available to suit a diverse range of skills and interests.  We have volunteering opportunities available Monday to Sunday from 8am to 9pm 

Volunteer commitment  

Due to the financial and time commitment of the volunteer recruitment process we ask for volunteers to commit to the following:

  • A minimum of 3 hours of time (weekly/fortnightly)

  • Attend and complete relevant training

  • Commit to getting a DBS with our help

  • Commit to getting prison security clearance where necessary

  • Stay with Nepacs for a minimum of 6 months to a year

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering for Nepacs can make a real difference to your own life and the lives of thousands of people who are serving a sentence on the outside when a relative is sent to prison. Hear first-hand from some of our volunteers here.

Recruitment process

Find out about the process to become a volunteer here

Volunteer Roles:

court_volunteerCourt Duty Volunteer - The purpose of the Nepacs court project court duty volunteer is to offer advice information and support to families. Having a visible presence in the court and using telephone support, volunteers support families by listening and offering information and advice when someone close to them is sentenced or remanded in custody. Families of prisoners often say they feel isolated in their community and unable to cope. Volunteers aim to help individuals by offering a listening ear, a helping hand and friendly support to help family make the next steps.

Location: Teesside Magistrates and Crown Courts, Durham Crown Court, Newcastle Crown Court


Family Prison Visits Volunteer - Volunteers in this role will be based in the Visitors Centre. The Visitors’ Centres exist to meet the needs of adults and children visiting relatives or friends in prison.  They aim to offer a safe, pleasant environment where all visitors are met with dignity and respect, provided with the facilities they need and offered information, support and the opportunity to discuss the difficulties they may face in confidence. Volunteers in this role will welcome and register all visitors arriving for a prison visit. They will support families who are waiting to go into the prison for their visit by offering listening support, providing information to first time visitors, and they also serve refreshments. The Visitor's Centre is based outside of the prison.

Locations: Visitors’ Centres at HMP Durham, HMP Frankland and HMP&YOI Low Newton in Durham, HMP Holme House in Stockton, HMP & YOI Deerbolt in Barnard Castle and HMP Northumberland near Morpeth.

play_area_volunteerPlay Area Volunteer - Volunteers in this role will offer support and a warm welcome to all children who are visiting their parent/family member. Volunteers will interact with the children whilst they are in the Visitors Centre waiting to go for their visit. Once in the prison visits hall when the visit is taking place, the children spend some time with their relative at the table and then come over to the play area where volunteers play with the children to keep them occupied during the visit. With this project our main concern is for the welfare of the child and in particular the need of the child for good quality contact with his or her imprisoned parent or relative. Volunteers can limit their help and support to the Visitor's Centre if they prefer not to enter the prison. 

Locations: Visitors’ Centres at HMP Durham, HMP Frankland and HMP&YOI Low Newton in Durham, HMP Kirklevington in Yarm, HMP Holme House in Stockton, HMP & YOI Deerbolt in Barnard Castle and HMP Northumberland near Morpeth.

tea_bar_volunteerTea Bar Volunteer - The tea bars play an important role in the prison visits room. In providing refreshments volunteers help to create a social and relaxed atmosphere for the family and prisoner during the visit, which contributes to the quality of the visits. This is a special time for the families to be able to see each other and chat over a cup of tea. This role is so much more than providing the refreshments, it is crucial to ensure the relationship is maintained between the family and prisoner whilst the sentence is being served. This role is based in the prison visits hall inside the prison. At Kirklevington Grange, Tea Bar volunteers can also assist with Special Family Visits if this is something they would like to do. 

Locations: Visitors’ Centres at HMP Durham, HMP Frankland and HMP&YOI Low Newton in Durham, HMP Holme House in Stockton, HMP Kirklevington Grange in Yarm and HMP Northumberland near Morpeth.

family_support_volunteerFamily Support Volunteer - Family support makes a difference by supporting families to maintain family ties, alleviate worries and concerns, answer questions, provide advice and 1:1 support to help prisoners and families cope with the impact of a custodial sentence both during the sentence and leading up to release and resettlement. Volunteers will assist with the planning and delivery of special family visits including  father child, mother child, first time dad and family play day visits, which are essential to maintaining family ties. Volunteers will help us to deliver our heading home programme which supports prisoners and their families to prepare for release. 

Locations: HMP Kirklevington Grange in Yarm, HMP Holme House in Stockton, and HMP & YOI Deerbolt in Barnard Castle, HMP Northumberland, HMP Durham, HMP Low Newton in Durham, HMP Frankland in Durham


Care Leavers Project Volunteer - Our project engages with young people (aged 18 to 24 years old) in custody who have had some experience of the care system as a child. The project aims to facilitate contact for the young person with their local authority personal advisor or social worker, and any family members or significant others they may wish to contact. There are opportunities for volunteers to support the 1:1 work with young prisoners and assist with group work.  There is also an administration role available for this project based at our head office in Durham.     

Locations: HMP and YOI Deerbolt (Barnard Castle) and HMP and YOI Low Newton (Durham)      


youth_project_volunteerYouth Project Volunteer - The Youth Project provides an opportunity for young people who are visiting family members in prison to relax, have fun and chat about their concerns with a trusted adult and feel less isolated and stigmatised.  Volunteers in this role will provide support and information for young people affected by the imprisonment of a family member. They will help out in the youth zones based at Visitors Centres, and assist with trips and residentials for young people. Volunteers will also offer 1:1 telephone support to young people with the potential of offering additional support by meeting up with young people.

Locations: Visitors’ Centres at HMP&YOI Low Newton and HMP Frankland in Durham, HMP Holme House in Stockton and HMP Northumberland, as well as in the community throughout the North East. 

Nepacs Helpline Volunteer - The Nepacs North East helpline is part of our new Early Days in Custody project which supports prisoners and their families in the first few weeks of imprisonment. The helpline number will be advertised across the region so that family members or friends affected by imprisonment know they have a place they can call with their questions and concerns. Ideally, as part of the role we would encourage volunteers to help within a Durham Nepacs project, for example Support at Courts or Family Prison Visits. This will enable volunteers to understand the journey of the family members/significant others and the situations they encounter as they navigate their way through the criminal justice system.

Location:  Durham City

Head Office Opportunities

Would you like to come and gain experience in a busy, vibrant head office in the North East? Our current roles at our Head Office in Durham City are below:

Volunteer Fundraiser - We are seeking a volunteer fundraiser who is committed to raising money to address the hardships experienced by families caught up in the criminal justice system and who wants to develop their professional fundraising skills. 

Admin Recruitment Volunteer- The aim of this role is to support the Volunteer Coordinator with all administrative tasks related to volunteer recruitment

Training Department Volunteer -This volunteer will prepare materials for training events and support with our new case management system which will require data input

Promotions and Marketing Volunteer-This volunteer will support the Communications and Development Manager/ Volunteer Coordinator to raise awareness of Nepacs and promote the volunteering opportunities available. 

If you have your own ideas about how you would like to contribute your time to support the aims of Nepacs please call us to discuss this on 0191 375 7278. We are always looking to develop new volunteering opportunities and would love to hear your ideas.