On any given day throughout the federal government, approximately 150,000 volunteers are at work. Some 80,000 of these people donate their valuable skills and time to agencies within the Department of Public Safety Canada, including the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).
CSC recognizes and encourages the essential contributions that local citizens make to the correctional process through volunteerism. Volunteers help bring a fresh perspective to the organization, help keep CSC in touch with the community and increase awareness of issues related to local institutions and parole offices.
As a federal agency, CSC benefits from the assistance of more than 9,000 volunteers. They bring a sense of community into the correctional environment, and complement a variety of institution-based programs including chaplaincy, recreational and cultural activities, educational and vocational training, and social events.
Volunteers also help bridge the gap between institutional life and reintegration back to free society. This includes offering support to the families of incarcerated offenders.
CITIZEN ADVISORY COMMITTEES (CAC)
Citizen Advisory Committees are autonomous groups of local citizens who are interested in contributing to the quality of Canada's federal correctional system. The mission of each CAC is to contribute to public safety as impartial observers to daily operations, providing advice and recommendations on correctional issues, programs and policies, and acting as liaisons with CSC staff members, offenders and the community.
CSC policy requires that the Committees be associated with each operational unit (i.e. federal institution, parole office, and community correctional center). Community members from various professional, cultural and demographic backgrounds serve on these voluntary, independent committees. Members are appointed for a period of two years.
COMMUNITY FORUM PROGRAM (CFP)
The Community Forum Program aims to facilitate community awareness and involvement in correctional justice at a grassroots level. The CFP accomplishes this by partnering with non-profit organizations across the country who work collaboratively within their community to raise awareness and build a network of support for offenders.
CSC GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
CSC is a part of every community where an institution or a parole office is located, and strongly advocates reaching out and helping others. This concept of "giving back to the community" is passed on to offenders in the hope that they will develop a stronger sense of accountability.
An excellent example of this approach is the program in which offenders restore old or damaged bicycles and toys donated by local community centres. These rejuvenated bikes are then given to children in need. Most recently, offenders organized a fundraiser in order to provide a contribution to victims of the Haiti earthquake.
These are only two examples of the many projects that give offenders the chance to show that they do care about our communities.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Volunteers will tell you that working with CSC is a very rewarding experience. To get involved, please contact the parole office or correctional institution nearest you. For more information on community involvement, go to CSC’s Web site at www.csc-scc.gc.ca.