Shining On

In the early summer of 2021 a funding application was submitted, to increase the scope of the support that Shine provides. It had become apparent that Shine’s six-month timescale for working with mentees was often too short, and there was a demonstrable need to continue to link in with women beyond that time. In the application it was proposed that a follow-on service could enhance the work of Shine. This follow-on service would provide voluntary ongoing support in the community to women already with Shine, and who were keen for further engagement on a one-to-one basis with a volunteer befriender.

The volunteer befriending would be complimented by creating and offering group activities and events, based around wellbeing, inclusion and connection. The hope is that - over time - women who have completed their time with Shine could progress to Shining On and, ultimately, return as a volunteer themselves. This way, the service would benefit from the volunteers’ lived experience when they work with others coming through that similar journey. For the women who would return as volunteers, the service will give them the opportunity of gaining individual benefit through routes into employment, confidence building and collaboration within services.

In the autumn of 2021 Shine was successful in its funding application. This made Shining On a reality, and the post of Shine National Volunteer Co-ordinator was created. It was decided to carry out a pilot project in Forth Valley to gain insight into what works well, before rolling it out nationally. Recruitment followed and once in post in January 2022 the Co-ordinator began to create a framework and procedures to form the backdrop to developing the service. Between January and March 2022 efforts were concentrated on liaison with partner agencies within Shine and more widely within the third sector throughout Forth Valley.

A Prison-Based Champion’s (PBC) Voice

"Having been with Shine since day one, I feel immensely proud of how we have grown as an organisation, and of the reputation we have among these women we support. Being a PBC means being in a role which is fast paced, continuously evolving, and very rewarding. At first, I had to explain Shine to every woman I encountered, and not many would have heard about it. Fast forward almost nine years and even first offenders will tell me they know about Shine as they hear the women saying good things about us. This makes me feel happy that we are a far-reaching service with a good standing among the women who need us most.

"We have evolved from being a project which had to find our place, to being the default service for women leaving prison to be referred to. This is a huge achievement. I think it's safe to say that after nine years, and with no intention of moving on, I've enjoyed my role very much. I hope to continue to provide an important service to women for many years to come."