If you’re a woman looking to do your bit to help other women, then Lincolnshire Action Trust wants to hear from you.
The charity, which provides support and advice to people with convictions and their families, is in need of some more volunteer mentors – especially for its dedicated women’s service.
Set up in January 2017, the service helps LAT’s female clients and aims to reconnect them with the community in a bid to reduce re-offending rates.
It has proved hugely popular since it was launched, with 269 women from across Lincolnshire having accessed the service between March 2017 and April 2018.
During the same period, the six-strong team delivered 219 group sessions across the county, helping clients with everything from personal safety, budgeting and benefits, to alcohol awareness, parenting, coping with grief, and more.
Meanwhile, practitioners delivered a total of 467 one-to-one sessions and achieved a total of 1,455 outcomes, which can include – among other things – securing accommodation or finding employment.
Now, as demand for the service shows no signs of slowing down and LAT has opened mentoring referrals for some of its other projects, the charity is recruiting more volunteers.
“We’ve supported women in all areas of Lincolnshire, so there is a county-wide need,” explains Georgia Pengelly, Volunteer and Mentoring Co-ordinator at LAT.
“Our current volunteer mentors do a fantastic job and really make a positive difference to people’s lives, which is why we’ve decided to expand our offering.”
The charity is seeking people over the age of 18 from a variety of backgrounds, who can dedicate around two hours of their time per week – an hour for their meeting and up to an hour to account for travelling time and writing a follow-up report.
Georgia explains: “To work specifically on the women’s service volunteers must be female, but we get plenty of referrals from other LAT projects where male mentors may be needed, so we don’t want to discourage men from applying.”
Typically, mentors will meet with their mentee to provide a listening ear and emotional support, which is often done during a catch-up over a coffee or similar.
Some clients have specific goals in mind, such as securing employment, so mentors may also be required to offer more practical support.
“Full training is given, so it isn’t necessary to have any previous experience of mentoring,” says Georgia. “We would like to recruit a mixture of ages, as each age group can provide a wealth of experience in lots of different areas.
“You could be a mother who’ll need something to fill your time now your children are heading back to school, or maybe you are recently retired and looking for a new challenge.
“It’s a bonus if volunteers are able to travel, as it makes it easier to match them to a client, but it is not an essential requirement. We do cover out-of-pocket expenses for fuel and public transport.”
Wendy Reynolds, a women’s service practitioner for LAT, said: “For the women who access our services, meeting someone on a one-to-one basis makes them realise they are worthy of help. And even if a mentor supports just one person, they can be proud that it will make a huge difference to their life.”
One of LAT’s current mentors, Sue Jarrett (55), from Lincoln, has been volunteering for the charity alongside her part-time job for just over a year.
She said: “In that time I have supported mentees with a variety of different needs, from job applications and budgeting to simple meal planning and mental health.
“All my mentees have thanked me and, despite me insisting they’ve done all the hard work, they’ve said they couldn’t have got to where they are now without me – and that’s why I do what I do.”
Georgia added: “We endeavour to recognise our volunteers where possible, offering ongoing training and development opportunities, involving them in annual away days, providing regular supervision and promoting their positive achievements.
“Many of our volunteers even progress into paid employment with us as they display their skills, dedication and passion for supporting someone in the criminal justice system.”
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer mentor for LAT, or want to find out more, email email@example.com or call 01522 806611 and ask for Georgia or Aysha. Alternatively, you can download an application form here: latcharity.org.uk/get-involved/mentor-recruitment.
• For more information about Lincolnshire Action Trust and the services it provides, visit www.latcharity.org.uk.