Volunteer Stories: The Footprints Project

1 June 2021

For Volunteers’ Week, we are highlighting the incredible impact made by volunteers in local organisations. Read on below to find out how Tom helps The Footprints Project change the lives of adults recently released from prison or a community sentence.

About the organisation

Footprints trains volunteers in the community to provide person-centred support for people who have been in prison, have received a community sentence, or a caution from the Police. The support they receive enables them to lead purposeful, fulfilling lives, contributing positively to the local community. Many have experienced unemployment, mental health difficulties, and expulsion from school, while some have also experienced homelessness.

At any one time, Footprints is working with around 40-50 people in the community in Dorset and
Hampshire. In the year ended 31st March 2019, Footprints has received referrals from 252 people and
supported 198 people in the community.


The volunteer’s role

Tom has been volunteering with the Footprints Project for six years.

Tom’s role is to provide one-to-one non-judgemental practical and emotional support to those being released from prison or serving sentences within the community. He offers a listening ear to understand what is going for clients emotionally and what challenges they are facing. He also assists clients with practical tasks that will improve their lives and well-being such as, but not limited to:

  • Registering with a GP and dentist,
  • Looking into voluntary and paid work
  • Enrolling onto training and courses
  • Help making a claim for benefits
  • Signposting to other support services.

In addition to the above, Tom assisted with the delivery of essential food parcels to vulnerable clients and those who were isolating and struggling financially as a result of the pandemic.


How has volunteering made a difference?

Footprints said, “We are a volunteer lead charity, and our volunteers are at the heart of the work that we do. We recruit volunteers who come from a range of different socioeconomic backgrounds, faiths, and ages. Each volunteer brings a variety of different skills and life experiences to the charity increasing the diversity of the workforce.”

Volunteering helps the organisation offer one-to-one practical and emotional support to some of the more vulnerable members of our society, This makes a difference in the wider community by helping to reduce reoffending rates whilst building safer and stronger communities.

Volunteering also makes a difference for the volunteers themselves. Ongoing training opportunities in specialised areas enable students to progress to a career in support or criminal justice services. They also gain increased awareness of the difficulties people face when being released from prison and the challenges they face adjusting to life outside of prison, increased confidence and the ability to recognise that we are all capable of making a difference.  They also have a chance to:

  • Give back and support those less fortunate
  • Share life experiences and skills
  • Expand their horizons and meet new people
  • Help with fundraising to keep the work going.

How to get involved

If you would like to get involved with offering practical and emotional support and helping people take their next steps towards an improved life, you can become a volunteer with The Footprints Project, too!

Find out more about becoming a Volunteer Mentor in Winchester here

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