Is volunteering for me?

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

Is volunteering 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. Others just want to share their joy of reading or believe that learning to read can open the door to a whole new world of choice and opportunity. Whatever your motivation, if you want to make a difference and have time to spare please read on.

What we’re looking for

Shannon Trust volunteers are:

  • compassionate and non-judgmental 
  • good at communicating with people from diverse backgrounds with different skills and experience
  • proactive and solution focused
  • available weekdays during the daytime (see different opportunities)
  • able to use email and have internet access
  • able to travel to nominated prison(s) (Prison Representative and Area Coordinator only)
  • prepared to make an initial two-year commitment

How we recruit and train volunteers


Applications are submitted online. Dates for our mandatory training will be provided. You'll be asked to confirm that you're able to attend these workshops if you join us. We'll acknowledge your application and arrange for a call from one of our regional managers. Please only apply if you see a vacancy that's suitable for you. 

Initial Telephone Call

Our regional manager will give you a call to take you through the role in more detail, ask you some initial questions and answer any questions you might have. We will then explain the next step of the process which may include you being selected for an interview. 


Interviews are face to face or via video call, relaxed and informative. You'll meet with a volunteer area coordinator and regional manager and explore with them the match of your skills and experience to the needs of the role. Following the interview, we will be in touch to let you if your application has been successful. Please note that there may be other people applying for the position and other interviews taking place. You can, at any point, choose to withdraw your application if you decide the role is not for you.

Training & Induction 

Prison volunteers and area coordinators attend four workshops, either online or as group training. These are:

Volunteer Induction 1 - Vision and values.  An introduction to the organisation and the work we do.

Volunteer Induction 2 - Volunteering in prisons.  Explains about the prison setting and prepares you for visiting prisons.

Turning Pages - this session explores how to use the Turning Pages resources.

Train the trainer - In this session we prepare you to deliver inspiring training to groups of prisoner mentors.

Two E-learning modules are also completed in your own time, one on health and safety and the other on equality and diversity.

Area secretaries attend the Induction 1 and 2 and will also have a training session about their role.

Area coordinators will also have an additional training session covering the specifics of their role.

Induction for prison volunteers includes accompanied visits to the prison they'll be supporting. These are arranged so that you are introduced to key people in your prison. We'll also arrange for you to observe mentor training taking place.

As area team meetings take place every three months your induction period will include at least one team meeting where you'll meet other volunteers in your area.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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