Sova shortlisted for Charity Times Award

Sova has been shortlisted for the Community Award which recognises an individual or sector organisation that empowers communities and promotes social action by encouraging people to be more involved in their communities, to volunteer and, give money.

2015 sees the Charity Times Awards reach its sixteenth year.  The Awards provide the charity sector with a dedicated event to reward the work carried out in difficult and competitive conditions, and establishes a unique annual congress of the pre-eminent figures in the sector.   We are absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted  for the Community Award alongside four other worthy charities that do amazing work in their communities.  Sova’s Chief Operating Officer Sophie Wilson responds to the news “It is a huge accolade to be shortlisted for this award, which recognises the contribution that our incredible volunteers working across England and Wales make to our services – without them, we could not do what we do.”

2015 marks our 40th year, and from our experience, we know that offenders and those at risk of offending face multiple and complex barriers which contribute to offending/reoffending behaviours. We know that many services, both statutory and non-statutory, exist to try and address these barriers, but we also know from our experience that service users struggle to engage with such provision -  often due to either a mistrust of perceived authority figures or as a result of living a chaotic lifestyle.

Sova’s objective, therefore, is to provide our individual service users with bespoke solutions which enable them to achieve a range of outcomes relating to personal development, including the rejection of offending behaviour.  We fulfil this objective by sourcing opportunities to support offenders and those at risk – both in custody and the community.  All of our delivery models are supported by a Theory of Change and our three ‘foundations of change’ – Connect, Grow and Thrive.

We frequently recruit members of the community to act as Volunteer Mentors within our projects as our service users have highlighted that the presence of an independent figure, someone who is ‘in their corner’, has been key to improving their engagement.  Furthermore, our use of volunteers enables us to expand and contract the size of our services as needed. Our volunteers receive full, accredited training and are recruited using robust ‘safer recruitment’ practices. Volunteers are supported and supervised by project staff throughout their engagement. We can’t thank our volunteers enough for the contributions they make to our services.

We currently have 39 projects operating across England and Wales supporting  8,200 service users a year and over 800 registered volunteers.  Each Sova volunteer gives up an average of 51 hours of their time to Sova per year and during 2014/2015 we delivered 25,000 mentoring sessions - that's 68 sessions per day! We believe that Sova has a unique role to play in the lives of our service users, as we fill in the gaps between all the other services and fill our service users with confidence to move forward. A service user who received support from Sova told us "I’ll do everything I can to keep my life on track but if things get difficult again, I know I won’t go back to how I was before."

The awards ceremony takes place on  7th October 2015 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London and we are looking forward to celebrating our sectors exceptional work, we know it will be an inspirational evening and it will hopefully end with Sova being recognised for our work on our 40th anniversary.