3rd October 2014
Amy’s first class
AMY Willinscroft believes voluntary experience helped her gain a first class honours and a full-time job.
The 23-year-old began volunteering for probation in April, 2011, and continued the role while studying for a criminology and sociology degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Earlier this year Amy had a brief stint as a compliance officer, before recently getting a job as an operational support officer (OSO) based in Wigan’s Coops Centre, working with the borough’s Intensive Community Order team.
She is relishing the role.
Amy said: “I don’t think you can expect to get into work without volunteering these days, and in my case it also helped me make sure I really wanted a role in probation.
“In addition, volunteering opened my eyes because aspects of the job I came across conflicted with what the text books were saying and so the experience complimented my studies.”
Amy also believes volunteering helped her break down stereotypes.
She said: “Some take a stereotypical view of the homeless, those taking drugs, or shoplifters. After volunteering with probation I saw the world in a different light.
“I believe there’s always a reason why someone has ended up where they are.”
Amy’s volunteer experience included: testing offenders on Drug Rehabilitation Requirements, working in breach courts and helping members of staff deliver offender programmes.
At the beginning of this year she successfully applied for a compliance officer post. The job saw Amy carrying out home visits with a colleague. Home visits are conducted if offenders are failing to comply with their court order, and as ‘spot checks’ to ascertain what conditions the offender is living in.
She said: “It was fascinating. You’d be on the look out for drug paraphernalia, knives left out that could indicate trouble, or people living in the house who were not supposed to be there.
“Sometimes we’d visit an offender who had been sentenced for crimes related to domestic violence and find evidence that a woman was living there who had not been mentioned.
“Other times we’d find offenders who were not allowed to associate with each other who were living together.”
Amy sandwiched the two-day a week temporary job in with her studies, before graduating and then gaining a full-time position as an OSO based at the new ICO team.
The role includes establishing systems to register offenders, ensuring breach and recall action is activated promptly, recording successful completions correctly, updating records and managing tasks that practice staff then carry out.
Amy said: “Nicola Pugh was my boss when I volunteered, and her business management role fascinated me and that is one of the main reasons why I was happy to get the OSO job because I wanted to learn more about that side of probation.
“I love the team that I’m in and I’m proud that some of the ideas I’ve had regarding the systems have been adopted by other clusters. If you are not on point then the rest of team cannot function.
“I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy the role and am now thinking more about a career in business performance.”
Amy is also a volunteer for Circles of Support and Accountability, an organisation that provides support to child sex offenders.
She said: “I like to challenge myself by helping people who have committed offences of this nature, and if I can help reduce the chances of re-offending and prevent just one child falling victim of this crime then that is all the motivation I need.
“I am proud to be part of a team that is committed to helping people.”