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  • CoPPer

Spotlight on the Irish Probation Service: The role of Community Based Organisations and volunteers

The Probation Service is thrilled to be a partner in the ERASMUS+ CoPPer project , which is seeking to increase community participation in the criminal justice system through the development of the participation, contribution and management of volunteers in rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives. The project aims to train volunteers in the community to provide informal support, advice and guidance to probationers. They can act as a stepping-stone for the probationers’ social reintegration by motivating them for behaviour change, helping them enhance their competences, access to adult education opportunities, look for a job, or just representing a pro-social model.

There has long been a culture and tradition of volunteering in Ireland. From the early years of probation the work of paid probation staff was supplemented by volunteers. Until the 1960s probation work outside Dublin was provided by volunteers. From the 1970s the Probation Service has been supported by a range of not-for-profit Community Based Organisations (CBOs) led by voluntary boards providing services in partnership with the probation Service to people under supervision.

CBO activities, in addition to training, accommodation and other services, include mentoring, peer support, restorative justice services and circles of support for high risk persons delivered by trained volunteers. This work by volunteers complements and supports the work of Probation Officers and provides real benefits for participants and their communities. The Probation Service has considerable experience in developing, supporting and funding CBOs as charitable voluntary bodies and their volunteer-led activities through training, co-ordination and joint-working actions and cooperation.

The Probation Service in supporting the CoPPer project Work Package led by University College Cork (UCC), has submitted academic articles to the UCC researchers on volunteering, the work of volunteers in probation and related activities and completed a questionnaire on current volunteer participation to assist in the evidence review about what is already known about volunteering in probation.

The Probation Service has also identified peers ( experts; academics, practitioners and managers) to participate in the evidence review and stakeholders who will use this review in their analysis of existing programmes and adapt them creatively. The Probation Service is organising a site visit to a Community Based Organisation in September 2023 when delegates of the ERASMUS+ CoPPer project will attend University College Cork, Ireland.

Click here to see some of the work of out CBOs who are changing lives in our community , many of whom are volunteers.

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