Now that Dianne has completed her CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) project, helping to organise a really successful volunteer day in Newbury in June, we thought it was time to start thinking about my project.
This year, each of us in the business will give one week of our time to help with a local project or community group. We’ll be sharing our skills with other people and working on projects that help us to develop our skills – it’s not allowed to be something that we do every day or that won’t challenge us!
When I asked the staff what I’m not good at and what skills I need to improve, they said that I need to be better at sympathy! You may know that I don’t suffer fools gladly; I was brought up with a ‘just get on with it’ attitude and I have always believed that if something isn’t right, we should take responsibility and fix it. However, this attitude can sometimes get me into trouble, so we started to think about how I could develop more sympathy and more understanding for other people.
The solution, we think, is for me to become an official prison visitor. This means (if I’m accepted, pass the official checks and make it through the training!) that I will be going to a local prison once a fortnight, to meet with 2-3 inmates and talk to them. More importantly, I’ll be listening to them. I’m not allowed to be judgemental or try to fix them; I won’t even be allowed to do things like write letters for them or take them things. The role of the prison visitor is to listen with a sympathetic ear.
The very thought of visiting people I don’t know, from different backgrounds to me, who have possibly made a mess of things, fills me with dread! My staff think this is great, because it will push me out of my comfort zone and help me develop my skills. At the same time and more importantly, it will give me a chance to do something for other people – to visit people in prison who might not have any other visitors.
At the moment, I’m looking for a prison where I can become a visitor, before I start going through the checking and training. I’ll keep you updated through this blog, to let you know how I’m getting on.
If you have any experience of prison visiting, please do share your tips and views here.