By Sofia Shalaby, Casework Assistant

Sofia is currently a Casework Assistant for the Prisoner & Family Service team as part of her Politics and International Relations degree. In honour of Student Volunteering Week 2024, she has kindly shared some thoughts on her experience so far.

Before starting, I was excited about the opportunity to develop my interest in justice and international policy, and was enthusiastic about Prisoners Abroad’s mission, but I had no real idea what to expect. Now, as I finish the third month of my placement, Student Volunteering Week feels like it has come at the perfect time to reflect on the brilliant experience I have had here so far.

I can say with some confidence that I still never know entirely what to expect; no day has been the same, and each holds its own new development.

I am constantly learning about new challenges which the team grapple with, from mailing restrictions to the intricacies of international law, or the particularities of different consulates. It certainly never fails to be interesting.

I work primarily in family services, emailing and calling family members to answer their often complex and delicate queries, and providing emotional support to those often in very difficult situations. Because of this, the collective knowledge of the team if so important; being able to ask questions and turn to others for support when deciding on a course of action has been so beneficial. 

I am so grateful to work with such an amazing team, who never fail to provide these key learning opportunities and group discussions, and this has been so important to me in these first few months, allowing me to learn so much and feel self-assured in my role.

Being able to sit in on and help coordinate family support meetings feels like such a privilege. Prisoners Abroad has such a diverse and involved network of, not only staff, but engaged volunteers and family members.

Ensuring that this network is functioning, safe, and useful is at times a complex task. But is has been so rewarding, not only getting to help to strengthen and develop this network, but also getting to talk with and support the staff, volunteers, and family and friends who make it so great.

Working with Prisoners Abroad for the past few months has been such a fantastic opportunity and has already taught me so much about charity and international work, allowing me to get truly involved and make an impact. I cannot wait to see what the next few months will bring.

Being offered a lifeline can change everything. 

Prisoners Abroad translates human rights law into practical life-saving actions by providing prisoners access to vitamins and essential food, emergency medical care, freepost envelopes to keep in touch with home and books and magazines to help sustain mental health.

Can you help to support our life-saving work by donating today?