Volunteer

We rely on the assistance of our dedicated volunteers to carry out our essential work with prisoners.

We are currently taking on Legal Volunteers and Fundraising & Communications Volunteers. Could you join us?

Legal Volunteers

We are always in need of keen volunteers interested in gaining experience in a prison law environment. We have a small number of caseworkers, and with over 80,000 people in prison in England and Wales, a huge number of queries.

Volunteer support is invaluable to us, and makes a very real difference in enabling prisoners to access legal information and to defend their legal rights.

Legal Volunteer duties include sending general information to clients and other prisoners as directed by the legal caseworkers or senior solicitor, writing to clients with information about their specific cases and responding to general letters from prisoners.

Duties also include basic admin work such as photocopying, filing and typing.

This role is well suited for current or recent law students seeking to gain more experience of legal work, or for experienced lawyers wanting to use their skills and experience to help prisoners.

Volunteers are expected to commit to one day a week for at least three months. An expense allowance is provided.

Due to the location of the PAS office, we are unable to offer volunteer positions outside of London.

Fundraising & Communications Volunteers

This role is ideally suited for someone wishing to gain experience in the charity sector, specifically in fundraising and communications. The role supports the Fundraising & Communications Director with promoting PAS’ work to potential and existing supporters, particularly charitable trusts and foundations.

The varied duties include drafting proposals, letters and reports to charitable trusts and foundations, and researching charitable trusts and foundations or other potential major donors. The volunteer could also organise and promote fundraising events or campaigns, work on e-marketing or drafting content for PAS’s social media channels.

Our volunteers are expected to commit to one day a week for at least three months. An expense allowance is provided.

Due to the location of the PAS office, we are unable to offer volunteer positions outside of London.

Pro Bono

We seek support from corporate partners in the form of Pro Bono legal assistance, financial and in-kind assistance:

  • Public pro bono support of the leading free legal advice provider in the field of prison law.
  • Opportunity for seconded lawyers to develop a secondary specialism in prison law.
  • Financial support in the form of a small annual grant or employee-led fundraising initiatives.
  • In-kind support for our services: including help with printing PLRG Bulletin, use of meeting rooms for occasional events or meetings, donation of second hand office equipment and furniture.

Volunteer testimonies

Anna, Legal Volunteer: “It is a privilege to be able to help. Thank you PAS!”

“I am a former solicitor with experience of criminal and prison law. I am currently working part time as an advocate for a disabled people’s organisation in South London.

“Legal Aid cuts have restricted the funding for prison law making it more difficult for prisoners to access legal advice and challenge the prison service about bad practice- so the work PAS does is more important now than ever before. I wanted to help out if I could.

“I am really enjoying being a volunteer at PAS. The staff and the other volunteers are wonderful and the work is fascinating. I am refreshing my previous knowledge of prison law and there is always more to learn. I have been drafting letters on a range of issues and assisting at the advice clinic in HMP Holloway. It is a privilege to be able to help. Thank you PAS!”

Audrey, Legal Volunteer: “I truly felt like I was making a difference”

“My name is Audrey and I come from France. Before starting my Master in International and European Law I wanted to spend some time interning in a structure that would enable me to apply what I had learned studying Law, and cultivate my passion for Human Rights.

“Doing a summer internship at PAS gave me the opportunity to have a practical approach to Law, and PAS opened me to an entirely new branch of Justice. I truly felt like I was making a difference by helping caseworkers advise prisoners, contacting various departments within prisons and participating in a legal advice clinic during a prison visit.

“As the European Court of Human Rights reminds us, Justice does not stop where the prison doors stand. Depriving prisoners of certain rights in jail does not justify the neglect of their fundamental rights as Human Beings. PAS definitely plays a role in ensuring justice behind bars, and I am thrilled to have been a part of that.”

Catherine, Legal Volunteer: “Valuable hands-on legal experience”

“A typical day volunteering at the Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS) might involve supporting a caseworker by writing to a prisoner who has been the victim of an assault, chasing up a court for a hearing date, or conducting legal research.

“When I decided to enrol on a law conversion course (the first stage of training to be a solicitor), having previously worked for a charity, I realised how valuable gaining hands-on legal experience would be, both to develop relevant skills and also to gain an insight into an area of law I am interested in working in. I have followed with concern the impacts of legal aid cuts on access to justice in prisons, which made me particularly keen to support an organisation that exists to champion prisoners’ rights.

“As a PAS volunteer I have had the chance to gain useful experience, while seeing firsthand the value of the advice and support the charity provides to prisoners.”

Catriona, Legal Volunteer: “I’ve gained a number of invaluable skills”

“As a recent law graduate with an interest in human rights and criminal justice, I wanted to gain some practical experience in an area of law in which I had a genuine interest.”Through volunteering at Prisoners’ Advice Service I feel that I have been given the opportunity to take part in the work of an organisation that actually makes a difference, whilst also learning a great deal.”In drafting legal advice letters to prisoners, assisting with the preparation of case files and conducting research under the supervision of PAS’ dedicated staff, I have gained a number of invaluable skills. I have also been able to obtain an understanding of an area of law with which I had not learned anything about during my studies.

“Overall, I am finding the experience to be greatly rewarding, and look forward to contributing further to the valuable work that Prisoners’ Advice Service undertakes.”

Edmee, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “Volunteering at PAS opened my eyes to the disconcerting treatment of some prisoners”

“I am BA Liberal Arts student, majoring in politics and minoring in philosophy.

I am interested in international human rights and security issues and am currently pursuing a MSc in Security Studies.

I volunteered at PAS to gain a first-hand experience of the charity sector and to develop my research skills outside the realm of student politics.

I had no prior fundraising or events planning experience. The small scale of the charity appealed to me as an opportunity to get involved at different levels and to feel like I was contributing in some way. I volunteered at PAS for 13 months, coming in once in a week.

Volunteering at PAS opened my eyes to the disconcerting treatment of some prisoners. This highlights the important need for PAS’s work. My manager really took the time to teach me about the inner workings of a human rights charity, going over the accounts, and giving me increased responsibilities as I progressed.

I attended two trustee meetings, helped plan and organise a yearly panel discussion, while anticipating which charities we could apply to next.

I learned that staying organised and keeping up with application deadlines is key in this sector. My volunteering experience has made it easier to secure internships in my chosen field because of the wide range of skills that I gained at PAS.

Ella, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “You can help sustain PAS’ valuable work”

“Volunteering for PAS has been enriching on a personal and professional level. As a Fundraising Volunteer, I have been able to see how the time I donate to PAS has contributed to the charity’s financial stability.”PAS does incredibly worthwhile work and is the only organisation of its kind. By volunteering, you can help sustain this valuable work for excluded and disadvantaged members of society, whilst enjoying opportunities to expand your networks, build valuable transferable skills, and become a part of this small but energetic and dynamic charity.”

Emily, Legal Volunteer: “I learnt a vast amount about an area of law I knew little about”

“My name is Emily Cairnes and I am a law student at the University of Law. My undergraduate dissertation focused on the capture, treatment and prosecution of a prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After learning so much about how prisoners are treated at Guantanamo I was curious about the issues facing prisoners in the UK and decided to volunteer with PAS whilst studying post-grad.

“I’ve been at PAS a whole year now and enjoyed every day. I’ve learnt a vast amount about an area of law I knew relatively little about before volunteering. I have helped to write letters to prisoners and to prisons and I have helped to give advice to female prisoners at our Outreach Clinics at HMP Send. I have found it extremely rewarding to know that I’ve made a small yet significant impact on the lives of a group of people society usually turns its back upon or closes its eyes to.”

Emma, Legal Volunteer: “PAS has exceptionally good lawyers and caseworkers”

“I first became aware of PAS in 1999, when I got my first legal job. They are an excellent source of information when you are advising prisoners. I am now a Solicitor at Liberty, but I also volunteer at PAS.”It’s an amazing organisation with exceptionally good lawyers and caseworkers. These are people who probably could have chosen to work in any area of law, but chose this much maligned, misunderstood area of law which is often thankless and unrecognised.

“I was at the legal advice clinic where the then women’s caseworker -Deborah – and I received an indication that a serving prisoner’s children were going to be abducted and removed from the country. Prisoner staff shrugged their shoulders at the mother’s concern and said she needed to speak to a family lawyer – completely impractical given the urgency needed.

“After the clinic, Deborah and I found witnesses, got evidence, and prepared the case so that it was ready for a child abduction expert to take up first thing on Monday morning, which they did. PAS got an injunction and prevented those children’s removal to Iran. A case like that is life changing for three individuals.”

Frances, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “The role is hugely varied and interesting”

“I am a recent MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice graduate, pursuing a career in the human rights sector. Since graduating, I have been working with organisations such as Liberty and Comic Relief.

“I am passionate about issues surrounding human rights and social justice, and am looking to pursue a career in communicating these issues to wider audiences. The volunteer role at PAS allows me to assist in PAS’ work, which makes a genuine and substantial difference to the lives of many prisoners.

“The role is hugely varied and interesting, and has allowed me to develop a large range of skills around communications and fundraising. The staff and volunteers at PAS are – without exception – dedicated to the cause. This opportunity has allowed me experiences which would not have otherwise been accessible to me, such as running a focus group in HMP Downview and interviewing ex service users and key figures in the sector.”

Hannah, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “I’ve gained an insight into the functioning of the prison system”

“My name is Hannah and I am a recent MSc International Development graduate. Having just completed a communications and administration internship with the UN Refugee Agency I was looking to expand my skills in the charity/NGO sector.My work and academic experience up to this point have focused on capacity building and grassroots development for the vulnerable.

“This chance to volunteer at PAS has been in keeping with my belief that everyone deserves access to rights and education, whilst allowing me to expand my credentials.

“During my time at PAS I have been able to gain insight into the functioning of the prison system and glimpse its effect on prisoners’ first-hand when attending a prison clinic at HMP Pentonville. The prisoners aired issues relating to a lack of information on sentencing length, unlawful eviction and access to case evidence.

“Volunteering at PAS has boosted my CV in terms of fundraising skills, e.g. composing grant applications but, more importantly it has increased my awareness of a flawed system that needs more advocates. Advocates like the dedicated team at PAS who strive with so few resources to stop the system falling into decay.”

Jenna, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “PAS is such an important charity”

“Volunteering at PAS has been a fantastic experience so far. In my three months here I’ve worked on a range of things, from editing content on the new website to sourcing new photographs.

“PAS recently updated the website, so I’ve been checking through everything to make sure that the pages flow well and that the information is relevant and easy to find. I’ve also edited PAS’ Wikipedia and Facebook profiles, and updated the e-newsletter templates.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to make a difference at such an important charity. PAS does so much – on such a limited budget – for people who are often marginalised by society. It’s commendable just how dedicated all the staff are.”

Magda, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “Learning new things every day”

“I am a sociologist and information scientist who moved to London at the end of 2014. During my career, I have predominantly worked as a data analyst and in social and market research.

“I have always been interested in human rights causes, so volunteering with PAS is a great way to use my data skills. I’m helping PAS to help the more forgotten part of society protect their human rights – and I’m also gaining some valuable experience.

“I have been volunteering for PAS for one month and it has been brilliant so far. All the people here are absolutely wonderful, and their dedication to the cause is so inspiring.

“I am working on a project to introduce new data management practices, which should lead to more effective information flow within the whole organization, as well as representing our work to the public. Not only do I get to use my skills, but I’m also learning new things every day.”

Nadia, Legal Volunteer: “PAS showed me a different side to the legal system”

“I have always had a passion for justice and human rights, particular for the more unheard voices in society like prisoners.”Working with PAS showed me a different side to the legal system and it was good when the little or bigger victories were won on behalf of a prisoner who society generally believes ‘has no rights’ once imprisoned.”PAS does a good job bringing to light some of the issues faced by prisoners and the caseworkers work hard to have their matters addressed and a solution sought.”

Samantha, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “This opportunity not only boosted my CV but also opened my eyes to the vast differences in legal systems between the United States and the United Kingdom.”

“As an American student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursuing degrees in Sociology and Legal Studies, volunteering at PAS perfectly aligned with my career goals of working in a non-profit legal organisation.

During my time at PAS, I learned the in’s and out’s of fundraising for a non-profit organisation.

I was given the opportunity to develop skills in application writing and editing, researching, and excel.

Coming from a different country, the employees and volunteers at PAS welcomed me with open arms and made me feel part of the team.

This opportunity not only boosted my CV but also opened my eyes to the vast differences in legal systems between the United States and the United Kingdom.

I am honored to say that I got the opportunity to volunteer at PAS and play a small role in sustaining PAS.

I am looking forward to the day I get to go back and visit.”

Samuel, Communications Volunteer: “It’s nice to work for a charity that helps an underrepresented social group.”

“I have over one year’s communications experience and recently joined PAS to get a bit more experience in this area.

It’s nice to work for a charity that helps an underrepresented social group.

I’m learning a totally new language in the for of HTML and loving the responsibility of helping to manage the charity’s website and social media accounts.

My organisation skills have got a lot better here because there’s always plenty to do so good time management is a must.

It’s particularly interesting working at PAS because I’ve learnt tonnes about a part of law that loads of people don’t appreciate.

PAS is doing a great job of fighting for the rights of prisoners and long may that continue!”

Sohini, Legal Volunteer: “PAS’ defence of prisoners’ rights is a platform for social change”

“I’m Sohini, a 3rd year student of Anthropology & Law at LSE. I have engaged most with issues of human rights in my study of public and criminal law. Debates in anthropology have also made me more appreciative of the tension between respect for local cultures and universal rights.

“My interest in the law stems from my belief that it is a platform for social change. PAS’ defence of prisoners’ rights is a prime example of this, and one I wanted to be part of. The area of prison law is also very politically charged at the moment, and it is interesting for me to see how legal reform can effectively challenge political developments.

“So far at PAS, I have drafted letters to prisoners seeking legal advice. Under the direction of caseworkers and senior solicitors, I am learning how to summarise legal queries and am able to reflect on the practical solutions devised by my supervisors.”

Tierra, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: “I just want to say thank you PAS for teaching me so much more about your organisation.”

“I am from the USA, but I was studying abroad in London for a semester. I am studying Business Management at my university.

I am hoping to go into Fundraising and Event Planning at a Non-for-Profit Organisation after I graduate.

What brought me to PAS was that I needed to have more experience in fundraising and to understand what it means to work for a charity. I really wanted to make sure I pick the right career path for me.

I knew that coming to PAS would be a lot of work, but I wanted to learn more and understand PAS.

Although I was a Fundraising & Communications Intern, I felt like I was learning from others in the office too. I was learning how to approach different situations from others: I always thought there was one way to do something; however, I discovered there were different ways. I learned that there is so much more to a charity than what a person sees on a website or on a piece of paper.

By having an internship at PAS, it pushed me to speak up more when I had my own ideas and to learn a lot more. Not all my ideas were used, but some were and it made me very happy.

I just want to say thank you PAS for teaching me so much more about your organisation.”

Karla, Legal, Fundraising & Communications Volunteer: ” Thank you PAS for offering me such an enriching internship opportunity this summer”

“I can honestly say that I learned way more than I thought I would working at PAS for two months. Having worked with PAS taught me how to write/draft fundraising proposals, how to write thank you letters for huge charity foundations, how to provide basic legal advice for prisoners in need of assistance, how things work behind the legal world as well as in it and how to work with such a strong, well-prepared team.

I cannot express how thankful I am for such an enriching and amazing opportunity that I know has helped me decide what I want my next steps in life to be. I now feel more prepared to work within both areas that I was able to experience this summer.”