Jermaine: volunteering on temporary release

As a volunteer helping unemployed people to find work, each day 35 year old Jermaine uses the skills he learned studying Open University business courses with support from Prisoners' Education Trust (PET).

When some of his clients are resistant applying for certain jobs he inspires them by telling them that he leaves prison in Sussex at 6am every day to travel to London and returns at 9pm. He still has five months left on his sentence but he is already planning to find permanent employment in the field before he is released to make sure he doesn’t ever go back.

Jermaine is motivated by helping others and this is why he enjoys his current role at the charity St Giles Trust, where he works under the Release on Temporary License scheme (ROTL).

“Every day is another challenge, no day is the same, there’s something interesting to do. I find out what people want to do and help them step by step with CVs, finding the right jobs. I understand where ex-offenders are coming from, being moved from pillar to post, no one else is helping them and when I do that makes me feel better. I make sure people get what they need”, he says.

This is partly because when he began studying the first of many business courses in 2009 with funding from PET and help from tutors it kept him focused and improved his relationships with his family.

He says: “After I wrote to PET explaining why I wanted to do distance learning and I got the funding, it felt so brilliant knowing that someone was willing to help. I was able to say positive things to my family and to talk to them about what I was learning, how businesses work, management, personal finance which applies to every day life. It was awkward trying to study whilst sharing with someone but I kept going by focusing on deadlines, writing assignments early so I could get feedback from the tutor and making improvements.”

The south Londoner is now continuing his studies whilst volunteering and when he is back in the prison he supports people with reading and writing or accessing support to find work or study and he enjoys seeing their confidence improve.

Jermaine says: “I’m doing the same job in prison, I help people with applications, I find out what issues they have and try and help them. If I can continue helping people find employment, further education and training then I’ll be really happy.”