Taking on offenders as volunteers benefits the charity and the volunteer, says CSV

Taking part in volunteering programs could help prisoners gain important life skills and stop them re-offending after they are released, criminologist Dr Shadd Maruna will tell a voluntary sector audience this evening.

At a lecture hosted by CSV, Maruna will outline why volunteering can be instrumental in rehabilitating offenders.

"The benefit for offenders is that volunteering provides a sense of accomplishment, improves self-esteem and builds a sense of responsibility for your actions," he will say. "Through volunteer work, ex-prisoners can also integrate more easily back into society because the community can see that they are worthy of support."

More charities should welcome offenders as volunteers, according to CSV's director of prison volunteering Jean Pardey, who oversees CSV's day release programme for offenders who want to volunteer while completing their sentences. "We know that some ex-prisoners are turned down by charities because of perceived worries about risk and suitability," she said. "CSV believes that volunteering should be available to all and we know from our own experience that the best way of reducing risk is through good risk management and not by simply refusing to take offenders as volunteers."

In a related development, crime reduction charity Nacro has announced it is teaming up with Volunteering England to stage a conference next month aimed at informing charities about recruiting and working with volunteers who have a criminal record.

The conference, called 'Involving ex-offenders in volunteering', will feature a keynote speech by criminal justice and offender management minister Baroness Scotland. It will take place in London on 1 May. Anyone interested in attending should call Laura Hyde on 020 7840 6448.

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