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 Roles

court_volunteerCourt Duty Volunteer (Courts in Durham, Teeside and Newcastle)
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.

visitors_centre_volunteerVisitors’ Centre Volunteer  (Visitors’ Centres at HMP Durham, HMP Frankland, HMP Low Newton, HMP Holme House,  HMYOI Deerbolt and HMP Northumberland)
The Visitor Centre is used by families on the day they are visiting a relative in prison. Volunteers in this role will welcome and register all visitors arriving for a domestic visit and serve refreshments. Some visitors, especially those who are visiting for the first time, are extremely nervous about going into the prison and feel emotional about seeing their loved one. They often have a lot of questions such as how to get money or clothes to the prisoner, or what will happen when they get to the prison. We offer listening support and give information to visitors to try and reassure them and help them to feel informed. 

play_area_volunteerPlay Area Volunteer (Visitors’ Centres at HMP Durham, HMP Frankland, HMP Low Newton, HMP Holme House,  HMP Kirk Levington Grange, HMYOI Deerbolt and HMP Northumberland)
Volunteers in this role will offer support and a warm welcome to all children who are visiting their parent/family member.  They will be responsible for setting out toys and equipment before visits begin, and tidying and checking toys after they end. They will interact with the children within the Visitors Centre to make the experience as pleasant as possible, and encourage the child to keep returning to the person they are visiting within the prison visits hall to maintain family ties. This is based in the Visitors Centre outside of the prison, and in the prison visits hall inside the prison. Volunteers do not have to help out in the prison if they do not feel comfortable doing this. 

tea_bar_volunteerTea Bar Volunteer (Visitors’ Centres at HMP Durham, HMP Frankland, HMP Low Newton, HMP Holme House,  HMP Kirk Levington Grange, HMYOI Deerbolt and HMP Northumberland)
The tea bars play an important role in the Visitor Centre and prison visits room. In providing refreshments in the Visitor Centre you offer a warm welcome and much needed drink to those that have travelled to visit their loved one.  In the prison visits hall the tea bar supports both families and prisoners. You help create a warm, social atmosphere and generally contribute to the quality of the visits.  Volunteers in this role will be based in the Tea Bar in the Visitor Centre and the prison visits hall inside the prison. Volunteers who do not wish to enter the prison can remain in the Visitor Centre.

family_support_volunteerFamily Support Volunteer (HMP Northumberland, HMP and YOI Low Newton, HMP Kirk Levington Grange and HMP Holme House)
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 in this role will offer 1:1 support, information and guidance to families of prisoners, and this may develop to offering support to prisoners.  The volunteer will be offering a listening ear and emotional support as well as signposting people to other agencies, and offering some practical support. Volunteers will also support staff to plan and facilitate special family visits such as father/child visits, mother/child sessions (Low Newton) first time Dads visits and family play day visits. 


Care Leavers Support Volunteers (HMP YOI Deerbolt) 
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. Over all we support the young person whilst they are serving their sentence, and around the planned release. The project will also offer a group work programme around independent living skills, positive relationships and resilience. We are looking for an empathetic individual to work with and support the Project Worker. This voluntary position is to support with delivery of our group work programme ‘Paving the Way’ which seeks to support and empower care experienced male prisoners.       


youth_project_volunteerYouth Project Volunteer (Visitors’ Centres at HMP and YOI Low Newton, HMP Frankland, HMP Northumberland and HMP Holme House)
Volunteers in this role will provide support, guidance and information to young people who are affected by the imprisonment of a family member. This role will be carried out within prison visitor centres, prison visits halls and through off-site external trips and residentials. Throughout your role, you will be assisted by youth workers, youth project coordinator and sessional staff and will not be expected to take on the sole responsibility for any activities or sessions you do not feel comfortable leading. However, if you feel you would like take on a position with increased responsibility as your volunteering progresses, the youth project coordinator can discuss the opportunities for you to do so, as and where required.

Heading Home Volunteer (HMP Holme House and HMP Northumberland) 
Heading Home is a project that has been designed to help prisoners and their families prepare for release. The periods of release and resettlement can be a challenging time for families, often because family members have different expectations and concerns about how life will be once their relative has left prison.  
Volunteers in this role will offer 1:1 support, information and guidance to families of prisoners who are preparing for release.  The volunteer will be offering a listening ear and emotional support as well as signposting people to other agencies, and offering some practical support.  In the prison, volunteers will co-facilitate a group programme and also arrange and facilitate meetings between prisoners and their families to discuss release and resettlement. This element of the project will require specialist training which will be provided by Nepacs.   Due to the specialist training that is required for this role, volunteers are asked to commit weekly or fortnightly though we would hope that some volunteers would have some flexibility so that the project is able to respond to the needs of the service users.

Lived Experience Volunteer (please note that a volunteer must have lived experience of Care and/or the Criminal Justice System)

The Nepacs Building Bridges project is funded by the Ministry of Justice under the Local Leadership and Integration Fund (LLIF) to improve the resettlement outcomes for care experienced / care leavers within the prison system. The project is an extension to the existing Care Leavers provision in HMP & YOI Deerbolt and involves in-depth support for care experienced young people in the final 6 weeks of their custodial sentences and 12 weeks post-release. This in-depth support is to aid resettlement and reintegration into the community and is delivered by our Care Leavers Resettlement Coaches.  The Building Bridges Lived Experience element of the project is a telephone based Peer Mentoring service for our young people who are in the 12 weeks post-release stage. The Lived Experience volunteer role is to offer support, advice and someone to talk to, so that our young people can have supportive conversations with someone who has similar lived experience to them and can relate to their situations.  Volunteers will be allocated a number of Peer Mentoring telephone contacts to conduct on a weekly basis.  Volunteers will be required to plan and undertake the calls, provide feedback to the allocated Care Leavers Resettlement Coaches and complete monitoring tasks.  Contact volunteering@nepacs.co.uk for details of how to apply for this role only.

Early Days Helpline Volunteer (Head Office Durham)
The Nepacs North East helpline is part of our Early Days in Custody project which supports prisoners and their families in the first few weeks of imprisonment. The helpline number is 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. This role can be performed by working in our Durham Old Elvet office or from home.

Fundraising Volunteer (Head Office Durham)
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. 

Training Development Volunteer (Head Office Durham)
This volunteer will prepare materials for training events and support with our HR/training system which will require data input as well as potentially assisting with the delivery of training packages to internal staff and volunteers and external participants.