How to Help

PCSANZ Faith-Based Volunteering

What is faith-based volunteering in NZ prisons?

PCSANZ relies on faith-based volunteers to come into prisons to help deliver group worship, group study and individual pastoral care to prisoners every week. The volunteers are managed by our professional chaplains at each prison site.

Our faith-based volunteers come from all walks of life. They vary in age, ethnicity, faith and denominational background. Most are Christian, some are of other faiths (e.g. Muslim and Buddhist). They are all endorsed members of a faith-based organisation. All are welcome and important for the service.

PCSANZ volunteers can help change lives of prisoners. A volunteer helps nurture a lifegiving spirit in prison through their interaction with prisoners, prison staff, chaplains and other PCSANZ volunteers.

What do volunteers provide?

Our faith-based volunteers typically help to take group activities - Sunday or mid-week worship services, Bible Studies or other faith-based studies. In some cases volunteers provide one to one pastoral care to individual prisoners.

Being a PCSANZ volunteer is different to being a personal visitor to a prisoner. As a member of the public you may be able to become a personal visitor to a prisoner however this relationship is initiated by the prisoner and must be approved by prison management (Corrections or Serco). In general, PCSANZ does not allow its volunteers to also be a personal visitor to any prisoner.

Volunteer suitability

Let’s face it prisons are physically and psychologically demanding places to work, and prisoners are vulnerable people and so it’s really important that PCSANZ makes sure that a person is suitable before they volunteer in a prison. A chaplain (with the oversight of their regional manager) determines whether a volunteer is suitable to PCSANZ and the site by looking at:

  • relevant skills for providing religious and spiritual services (either on a one to one basis or as part of group),
  • sponsorship by a faith community where they are active members,
  • openness and acceptance of other religions and faiths,
  • conflicts of interest and criminal records,
  • the ability to refrain from proselytising and any form of discrimination, and
  • an acceptance of PCSANZ management, vision and culture,
  • any other criteria based on the specific requirements of the site.

What PCSANZ expects of a volunteer

We expect volunteers to act with maturity, skill and care.

To help volunteers operate safely in a complex environment, there are Codes of Conduct (PCSANZ and Corrections/SERCO) and lots of rules that need to be followed along with any instructions given by chaplains. The Codes cover such subjects as how volunteers are expected to behave on site, interactions with prisoners, staff, and other volunteers, and restrictions on activities outside the prison and with released prisoners.

Becoming a volunteer

If you would like to become one of our volunteers, please talk to a chaplain at a prison near you.
You will then need to:

  • have the support of your faith leader or church leader
  • complete a PCSANZ Volunteer application form
  • be approved by the Chaplains on site and the PCSANZ Regional Manager
  • obtain an acceptable MOJ security clearance
  • be acceptable to Corrections/Serco prison management
  • agree to abide by the Corrections/Serco Code of Conduct and the PCSANZ Code of Conduct
  • attend a Corrections/Serco health and safety induction on site
  • be approved for prison access and issued with a site access (APPE) card
  • complete PCSANZ induction