What are the benefits of volunteering in Probation? The CoPPer project reflects on some of these
Atualizado: 9 de ago.
Working on the CoPPer Project and trying to gather all the best practice examples on volunteering in probation raises the question – what even are the benefits of volunteers in probation?
This question has been addressed by many researchers of various fields. According to Vecina et al. (2022), the benefits of volunteering can be divided into three main categories: personal identity, shared values and experiences, and benefits related to the activities themselves. The first category refers to the altruistic nature of volunteering, which gives meaning to life and contributes to subjective and psychological well-being (Vecina et al., quoting Okun, Stock, Haring, & Witter, 1984; Stukas, Hoye, Nicholson, Brown, & Aisbett, 2016; Thoits & Hewitt, 2001; Vecina, Chacón, Marzana, & Marta, 2013). This involves being productive and creative, engaging in worthwhile activities, and experiencing pride and enthusiasm in voluntary tasks.
The second set of benefits involves personal development and the opportunity to share experiences with others facing similar situations. This fosters engagement and identification with the volunteer's community, leading to an improved social network. Lastly, practical activities such as acquiring new skills, fulfilling meaningful tasks, and being productive and creative also offer benefits to participants. These activities give purpose to their efforts and reflect a genuine interest in what they do.
For probation volunteers specifically, a survey conducted by the Government of South Australia, Department of Correctional Services (2023), revealed several personal benefits for individual volunteers. These include the opportunity to contribute to society by supporting both offenders and staff, assisting offenders in changing their lives, interacting with a diverse range of people, utilizing existing skills, and gaining personal satisfaction.
From a societal perspective, volunteers supplement the work of professional probation officers and provide a service to the public and their community. They raise awareness about the practices of the criminal justice system and potentially inspire other citizens to join the cause (Ang, 2003).
As becomes apparent, the benefits of volunteering in probation are manifold. The CoPPer project tries to make the best out of civic engagement and considers all stakeholders in question – volunteers, organisations, and beneficiaries alike. With this approach a further development and progression of volunteers in probation in Europe can be achieved.
Ang, Bee Lian: Volunteer Management in the Probation Service: The Case of Singapore (From Annual Report for 2002 and Resource Material Series No. 61, P 174-179, 2003, --See NCJ-205803)^
Government of South Australia, Benefits of Volunteering. Department for Correctional Services. Retrieved May 16, 2023, from https://www.corrections.sa.gov.au/volunteers/become-a-dcs-volunteer/benefits-of-volunteering
Stukas, A. A., Hoye, R., Nicholson, M., Brown, K. M., & Aisbett, L. (2016). Motivations to Volunteer and Their Associations With Volunteers’ Well-Being. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 45(1), 112–132.
Thoits, P. A., & Hewitt, L. N. (2001). Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42(2), 115–131. https://doi.org/10.2307/3090173
Vecina, M. L., Chacón, F., Marzana, D., & Marta, E. (2013). Volunteer engagement and organizational commitment in nonprofit organizations: What makes volunteers remain within organizations and feel happy? Journal of Community Psychology, 41(3), 291–302.
Vecina, M.L., Poy, S., Benevene, P. et al. The subjective index of benefits in volunteering (SIBiV): an instrument to manage satisfaction and permanence in non-profit organizations. Curr Psychol 41, 7968–7979 (2022).