Celebrating International Volunteers Day
To celebrate International Volunteer Day here’s a look at a volunteer who works for a charity funded by the Sussex PCC.
Name: Amanda Hamblin
Lives: near Heathfield
Volunteers: as a Restorative Justice facilitator
Where: Lewes Prison and in the community
Amanda had spent 20 years working with offenders and, on hearing about Restorative Justice, she knew she wanted to be involved. Three years ago she started volunteering to be a facilitator for the Sussex Pathways charity based in Lewes Prison.
What appeals to you about Restorative Justice?
RJ is all about the harmer meeting the person they’ve harmed – either through a letter, a shuttle of messages or a face to face meeting. The objective is to give the victim a voice, help them get over the trauma and shock of the crime, and hopefully move on with their life. It also aims to rehabilitate the offender by getting him or her to face up to the consequences of their actions. After a meeting there’s goodwill on both sides and the victim often wishes the harmer well in their future life.
How does it work, practically?
Any victim of crime, and any prisoner (or person in the community who’s previously been convicted), can apply to take part in RJ. Sometimes the harmed person doesn’t wish to participate, perhaps because they don’t wish to revisit the crime, but often they agree because they want to ask questions about the whys and hows of the crime and to learn more about the offender. My job is to lay the path for the process to happen, make sure everyone is well prepared and supported, and to make sure the harmer answers the victim’s questions and shows genuine remorse.
What do you personally get out of being part of RJ?
I have a great sense of fairness and love that RJ helps to redress the balance, often removing a heavy load from the harmed person’s shoulders. Victims don’t get to see justice done or read their impact statement in court if the offender pleads guilty before the trial. I get huge satisfaction from seeing harmers think about the real human impact of their actions and any future offending. It’s rewarding to see a harmed person arrive with trepidation but leave feeling empowered and free of fear.
What does the harmed person get out of RJ?
Often they picture the perpetrator as a monster; someone who has specifically targeted them and is physically strong and powerful. Once they meet them in person and realise they’re often troubled, addicted, or smaller and weaker than they’d imagined, that can really help the victim’s healing process. They can get rid of their fear and anger and move forward with their lives: that’s what we volunteer facilitators are there for.
How many hours a week do you volunteer?
It depends on how many cases I have at one time. Anywhere between 5-20 hours a week.
Only that sometimes I have to rearrange my commitments at very short notice.
Can you sum up your experience as a volunteer?
I find it truly fulfilling to see the real difference RJ can make to people’s lives. To be part of a process that makes people feel so much better is a huge privilege.
Sussex Pathways receives funding from the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner for its work on Restorative Justice. To find out more, please email Shirl Tanner at firstname.lastname@example.org