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RSAT Forum > Monthly Discussion > June 2022: Reinstating Pro-Social Programming as COVID-19 Lockdowns are Lifted View modes: 
skeller - 6/17/2022 9:30:21 AM
June 2022: Reinstating Pro-Social Programming as COVID-19 Lockdowns are Lifted

Q: When COVID lockdowns started, we had to stop a lot of the unit activities, including losing the volunteers who used to come in. Now that lockdowns are lifting, we want to explore some new ideas and roles for volunteers. Are there any other prison or jails with good prosocial programming using volunteers you can suggest?

A: Now is a great time to look at new ideas for prosocial programming.  Many RSATs use volunteers to promote prosocial programming.  Each program is different, but here are some general tips we have learned from these programs that you might find helpful.

  • Consider what resources you have in your state/community and start there. Many non-profit or volunteer organizations have missions to help others through programs, services, or sharing information. Exampled range from a local HIV/AIDS Clinic that would provide a regular class on infectious disease or a crochet guild that would teach their skill to RSAT participants. Many domestic violence shelters send volunteers to women’s facilities to talk about intimate partner violence.  Just google “non-profits” in your community and you find a great list to start with.
  • Ask your RSAT program participants what they are most interested in. Following their interests will build their investment in prosocial programming from the start. Hold a community meeting or focus group with your participants to seek their feedback and provide them with clear boundaries about what resources the program/facility has access to. Provide participants updates on what you are doing with the information they provided even if you cannot accommodate all of their selections so participants know that they are being listened to and their suggestions valued.
  • You may find what you are looking much nearer than you think. Encourage peer-led programming when possible. Many participants have talents and skills that they may be willing to share that would benefit others. Having a regular peer-led class outside of programming hours is beneficial to both teacher and students, while not demanding the extra resources it takes to bring in outside volunteers or groups. Examples of peer-led classes could be basic finance, language learning, resume writing, or art.
  • Take advantage of the increased use of technology. If your jail or prison was provided tablets during the pandemic, you don’t have to stop using them! You can expand or enhance their content to include educational, counseling and self help programming beyond the entertainment the tablets may have come loaded with.  Using tablets for video conferencing will allow virtual access to volunteers who are unable to come into the facility regularly.  By continuing (or starting) virtual meetings, you can maintain access to many different prosocial options.