Sophie Wilson Chief Operating Officer Expand What made you want to work for Sova? I was really attracted to the focus Sova had on supporting volunteers – which was my background. The range of projects were really interesting and I was keen to learn more about the criminal justice sector; which was Sova's focus at the time What do you enjoy about working for Sova? My role is complex, varied, challenging and never boring! The thing I enjoy most however is working directly with such a committed team – across both our operations and core services. We have more than 140 staff working at Sova, and I am always bowled over by their passion and integrity and their focus on supporting the people we work with. How do you feel the work you do benefits those you work with? Sova delivers services across two distinct work streams; Resettlement and Rehabilitation and Strengthening Communities. Our resettlement and rehabilitation services support adult offenders leaving custody and serving their sentences in the community, and much of this support is provided by trained volunteers. Having someone who is there because they want to be, and not because they are being paid to be, is a really powerful agent for change. Our fully trained mentors offer structured, focused support – developing action plans and regularly reviewing progress. We also offer case management support, which is provided by paid members of staff, and is usually focused around supporting the individual to gain employment, access training or enter education. We know that achievements in these areas significantly reduce the likelihood of re-offending and, again, we have had tremendous success in this area of our work. Our strengthening communities work stream covers the work we do with children, young people and families – in the heart of communities – to support those identified as ‘at risk’. This includes crucial services such as the Independent Visitors programmes which provide independent volunteer befrienders to support looked after children; offering them the chance to have a long-term, positive, relationship with an adult who is there ‘just for them’ and is not part of the system. Again, we know that these relationships are really important to children and young people and often last for many years – giving them stable and long term support. We also provide services from drop-in centres for children at risk; support to families and individuals in supported housing; employment support to long term unemployed and even family learning programmes to offenders and their pre-school children. All of this work is critical to strengthening our communities, and our volunteers are a big part of how we do this. If you could tell people about the work you do, or the impact Sova has, what would you say? A significant number of our clients have offended, or are at risk of offending – and a lot of people may think that these people don’t deserve our support. I disagree. The reasons behind offending behaviour are multiple and complex, and at Sova we are interested in the individual, not the offence. The vast majority of people we work with want to make a change, they want a positive future and if we can support them in doing that then local communities and society as a whole will benefit.