Georgie helps women prisoners

I’m studying Psychology at Reading University and my goal is to become a Clinical Psychologist. I want to specialise in the treatment and care of young people and adults with mental health issues. To achieve this I need to gain as much experience as possible.

I contacted Thornbury Volunteer Centre and asked if they had any opportunities which may be suitable and which I could fit in around my studies. Amongst several of the options available was volunteering with the Prison Advice & Care Trust at HMP Eastwood Park. PACT supports prisoners and their families by providing prison-based family casework staff, children’s play services and refreshment services.

PACT had recently set up a new scheme which encouraged women inmates to record Story CDs. These would be sent home to their children so they could hear their mother reading them a bedtime story. This opportunity really appealed to me and I applied immediately. The security and vetting service for the prison service is very extensive and time consuming but after a wait of about four months I was finally able to attend my induction training.

My volunteering at the prison has been mind-blowing. I’ve been granted access to some of society’s most vulnerable members at a time when they are at their lowest. Through my volunteering I feel that I am making a real difference. I’ve provided a listening ear and signposted them to areas of help. I have seen the joy and excitement on the faces of children as they visit their mums and seen the despair on both sets of faces once these visits are over.

The PACT team have been encouraging and supportive throughout my volunteering; I’ve attended training courses, sat in on meetings and attended their annual conference. All of this has strengthened my resolve to work within this field on graduation.

Volunteering has not only opened my eyes to an unknown world, it has also given me confidence and a sense of self-worth that I would never have achieved otherwise.

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