Volunteering in the Prison
As a lawyer, I am fully aware of the great importance of volunteering at the prisons. Volunteering in prisons has a profound impact, providing support, rehabilitation opportunities and hope for incarcerated persons. Through volunteering, it is possible to make a positive contribution to the lives of people in prison. It is already the 10th month of my work in Liepaya prison, where I am trying to change myself and everyday life of a group of 9.
Through my volunteering, I try to contribute to rehabilitation and reintegration into society and provide humanitarian and compassionate support as people in prison face isolation, loneliness and lack of emotional support or even alternative ways and behaviors. I strongly believe that my volunteering, at least in this small group, can play a big role in breaking the cycle of recidivism and promoting a more productive and law-abiding life that makes me feel like a valuable person and the best version of myself.
The topics chosen for the workshops are always related to valuable areas: active citizenship, conflict resolution, reconciliation, tolerance, human rights, cultural exchange and also cooking; in each activity there are some main ideas that we discuss. Films or cartoons are sometimes more effective in raising awareness about conflict resolution and dealing with our dark side of humanity. Cooking activities are perhaps the best activity for sharing cultural values and differences. In this case, my last big activity was a cooking workshop where all participants had the opportunity to cook Georgian traditional dishes themselves, with great support and participation from the prison staff.
In conclusion, volunteering in a prison was a transformative experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system and the challenges people face in prison. I feel that my skills in empathy, cultural competence and improved communication have already improved, which will have a positive impact on my interactions with others in various cases. I remember the untrusting faces of my group in the beginning, even "scaring" me with the upcoming changes, but now I am proud of the achieved goals of our small society, where we are safe and ourselves, having fun and full of hope for a new life.
In summary, volunteering at prison is important because it contributes to rehabilitation, provides compassionate support, provides positive role models, enhances community safety, promotes restorative justice, and supports personal growth and empathy. It is a valuable way to feel the power of being able to change the world by helping others.
The project "Changing Point" is financed by the #ESC (European Solidarity Corps) Programme of the European Union. This publication reflects only the viewpoint of the author.