We've gathered together some of the commonly asked questions about volunteering with Shannon Trust.

Frequently asked questions

I have convictions, can I volunteer with you?

We welcome applications from all people including people who have previous convictions and lived experience of prison. Your convictions don't automatically exclude you from volunteering with us but the nature of them and when they took place may mean that some roles are more suitable than others. 

We ask you to disclose any unspent convictions on your application. These will be treated confidentially and will be discussed during your initial contact with our regional manager.

Appointment to prison volunteer and area coordinator roles is dependent on applicants successfully completing the prison service security vetting which includes full disclosure of all previous convictions. 

What commitment do you need from me?

We ask volunteers to be confident, as far as possible, that they are able to volunteer for a two-year term with us. This is because training and security clearance can take some time and because success and progress of the Shannon Trust can be damaged if our volunteers leave within a short space of joining us.

When and how often will I need to visit a prison?

Prison volunteers visit their prison monthly. These visits take place during Monday to Friday and normally between 8.00am  and 4.00pm. You'll need the flexibility for visits to be determined by prison staff availability. 

What support will be available to me?

Our volunteers are organised into area teams. Each team is led by a senior volunteer, the area coordinator. The area coordinator will support you through your induction period and be available to guide and advise you on developing the Shannon Trust in your prison. You will also receive support from other volunteers in your team.

Our volunteers meet in their area teams once every three months. Meetings are used to share successes and challenges and to develop best practice.

Do you provide transport to prisons and meetings?

We encourage car sharing for travel to Shannon Trust events. You'll need to make your own travel arrangements when visiting prison(s) using public transport or using your own vehicle. 

Will volunteering cost me anything?

Reasonable, out of pocket expenses will be reimbursed. This includes a mileage allowance if you use your own car/motorbike, public transport/taxi fares, food and refreshments. We’ll also cover any administrative costs such as printing or telephone calls.

Will I need access to the internet if I volunteer with you?

Yes, you'll need to access the Network area of the Shannon Trust website regularly. This is the place where information is shared among volunteers, prison staff and Shannon Trust staff.  We provide most volunteer roles with a dedicated Shannon Trust email address, you will need to be able to receive and respond to these emails in a timely fashion. 

During the COVID pandemic, all of our meetings have been switched to Zoom or Teams meetings online.

I'm interested in the prison volunteer role, can you tell me more about the administration and preparation involved?

You'll need to allow some time for preparation in advance of mentor training and mentor meetings. You'll be expected to complete a brief monthly activity report outlining successes, challenges and areas for priority.

There will also be email communication to follow up meeting actions and make arrangements for meetings. And you'll need to regularly access the Network area of the website to keep up to date.  

Will volunteering affect my state benefits?

You can volunteer and claim benefits if:

  • the only money you get from volunteering is to cover expenses, like travel costs
  • you continue to meet the conditions of the benefit you get

More information is available using the following link:

I have access requirements, am I able to volunteer with you? 

Shannon Trust training events and area meetings are held in venues that are accessible for people with mobility needs. We also make sure a hearing loop is available in all meeting rooms. 

If you have access requirements, please make a note of these on your application form so that we can make sure these can be met when agreeing on placement. This is especially important for prison volunteer and area coordinator roles where most of the activities take place in non-public areas inside prisons.

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Is it for me?

Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Many have personal experience of struggling to learn to read themselves or through a family member.