We like to keep in touch with our alumni and hear about what they are doing since graduating. Jade Taylor studied the LLB Law with a Foundation Year degree with us as Staffordshire University and graduated in 2017. Since graduating, Jade has been a support Officer, Coordinator and volunteer in ares within the criminal justice system, including probation work, mentoring and children in care. She has written a guest piece for our blog about her experiences mentoring within the criminal justice system.
August 2017 – July 2019 Volunteer Support Officer for CF03, SWM CRC, DLNR, Merseyside Circles
July 2019 – Promoted to Volunteer Coordinator for SWM CRC – Covering Probation Offices Birmingham Centre City and Wolverhampton Lever Street & Community Mentoring for both areas.
October 2018 – Present – Volunteer Independent Visitor for Black Country Independent Visitors (Children in the Care System)
In April 2016, I decided I needed to get some experience in the Criminal Justice System as I was studying a Law Degree at Staffordshire University. I investigated what would be the best opportunity for me and came across Sova/CGL. Going through recruitment I was nervous yet excited. I didn’t know what to expect or how I would deal with this line of work. After the second interview I was hoping and praying I would get the opportunity, and I did. I was over the moon!
Little did I know at the time it would be the best decision I ever made.
I became fully recruited in October 2016 and this is where my journey began. I started off volunteering in Stoke on Trent on the SWM CRC project doing community mentoring supporting service users of all different backgrounds and with all different support needs. I then got involved with Breach Court support at Birmingham Magistrates every Wednesday morning on my day off from university. This was an amazing experience and the support I could give to the individuals been given sentences was incredible. We would sign them up and give them that little glimpse of hope.
Alongside this I was then given the opportunity to mentor in HMYOI Brinsford. I took the opportunity with both hands and again enjoyed every minute. Supporting an individual in custody is daunting to begin with but then I soon realised it was the perfect opportunity to give that person a sense of hope, determination and courage for their release giving them all the vital tools to develop and grow in the community.
It is safe to say that as a volunteer the co-ordinators gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only that but did they make me the person I am today from the beginning. They believed in me, they supported me and they enabled me to grow and develop with continuous training and guidance.
I loved volunteering with Sova/CGL that much I applied for a job with Sova/CGL as the Volunteer Support Officer 4 weeks after graduating in July 2017. Then an even bigger shock and an even better opportunity. I GOT THE JOB!!
I had the most rewarding job of recruiting volunteers and giving them the opportunity that I was given. I go to work happy and come home happy knowing I can do this for others. My work is more than just a job. I also still get to mentor the service users and I will quite happily make that time up! My colleagues are brilliant and I have made some great friendships along the way.
July 2019 came, a promotion opportunity came up. By chance I went for it thinking “what do I have to lose”. It was nerve-wracking but exciting. This is what I had longed for. Going through university thinking it would take years to get into a full time job that I was happy in and what I had studied so long for. I was successful for the post and I have now began my journey based in Probation supporting not only volunteers but assisting service users on license in there day to day struggles. Now that’s rewarding!
I also volunteer one Sunday every month on the Black Country Independent Visitor project where I get to make a difference to a young person’s life in the care system. Again, the most amazing opportunity to make a difference to somebody’s life and enjoy it at the same time.
The opportunities are endless and the volunteers we have are the bread and butter of what we do. I am proud of how far I have come as a volunteer now staff member, but most of all I am extremely proud of the volunteers I get to recruit. I get to watch them flourish into amazing mentors and to give them that rewarding experience is indescribable.
I am proud to be part of this organisation both as a volunteer and staff member and as I will say every day I am extremely proud and value all our amazing mentors on all the projects that we have and the journey I have been on since graduating!