Zoe is currently volunteering for Prisoners Abroad as part of her Sociology degree. In honour of Student Volunteering Week, which runs from 13th-19th February this year, she has shared a little bit about her experience so far.

I have recently joined Prisoners Abroad as a student volunteer in the casework team, which for the next few months will be contributing to my university degree in Sociology. Though it has been a big adjustment compared to university life, it has been an amazing opportunity to apply real world experience to my learning about justice and human rights and I have gained vital job skills that will last a lifetime.

Volunteering at Prisoners Abroad has been very fulfilling and it has been amazing to see the impact of the work throughout my time here, whether it be through the many thank you letters, art pieces and notes we receive every week.

I have been completing a variety of tasks including getting people registered to Prisoners Abroad, sending out information packs, and responding to letters, as well as contacting consulates to resolve any issues that occur within the prisons. I love to read so I have also really enjoyed picking out fiction and non-fiction books according to people’s preferences, as well as sending out language resources that span the world.

Being a student volunteer has helped me meet new people and given me incredible opportunities to attend fundraising events and lectures relevant to the criminal justice system.

I have been able to hone my practical skills this year, especially regarding securing my job place, gaining valuable experience of applications, preparing for interviews, and will give me extended work experience on my CV. More importantly, I have been able to build on my confidence in all parts of the job and have been encouraged to apply my new knowledge to complex issues independently, as well as within the wider team. 

Prisoners abroad has been a fantastic place to volunteer, and I have been lucky to work with an array of staff and other passionate volunteers to help with the charity’s day to day running, as well as longer term projects that fit into the operational plan. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here and will be sure to support and tell people about this amazing charity for many years to come.

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.