VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help run a visitor centre at a North-East prison.

The visitor and family support centre at Deerbolt Young Offenders' Institution, Startforth, near Barnard Castle, caters for about 11,000 relatives and children of inmates each year.

The centre relies on staff and volunteers from the charity North East Prison After Care Society (Nepacs).

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Linda Fenwick, Nepacs Visitor Centre manager at Deerbolt, said more volunteers were needed to help out during open hours on a Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, with each shift lasting about four hours.

She said the centre's aim was to provide a warm and friendly environment for families visiting the prison, which caters for male offenders aged 18-21.

“We greet people from all walks of life, from near and far, so it’s important everyone feels welcome in a place and situation they may never have thought they would ever be.

“Our staff and volunteers provide a friendly place to chat, have a cup of tea and can help to answer any questions or concerns that visitors may have about visiting prison or about their loved ones in prison.

“Volunteering in a prison environment can be rewarding for all and is often a valuable experience for younger volunteers who may be considering a career in the justice system.”

No previous experience is required although references and security clearance will be required.

Anyone interested should call Nepacs on 0191-3757278 or email info@nepacs.co.uk Alternatively, call Linda Fenwick on a Thursday, Saturday or Sunday for an informal chat, on 01833-633272 or email deerboltvc@nepacs.co.uk