James Stevens-Turner has been involved as a volunteer with BTG since 1980. As a child he was sent to a special needs school before leaving grammar school with no qualifications. A career in the Merchant Navy was brought to an end by a severe spinal injury. James has seen the effects of prison through his relationship with his brother John, who has served a number of sentences.
After a spell as a professional photographer, James moved to Sheffield to study and to work in a Salvation Army hostel. He gained a BA (Hons) in Social Science, a Master of Arts in Criminal Law (Penal Systems), a Diploma in Theology, and a Master of Arts in Business Administration. He moved to Cumbria, married Janet and worked at various jobs including photographer, taxi driver and at a centre running holidays for disabled and disadvantaged children. Around this time, James became group leader for the local Prison Fellowship, eventually becoming area co-ordinator. He and Janet moved to London in 1995. In April 1998, Trinity College, Dublin awarded James a Doctorate of Divinity. Sadly Janet passed away in 1999. James made several visits to inmates on Death Row in the USA.
James's non-working hours are divided between running BTG as CEO and the many other ways he supports like-minded organisations. He also undertakes speaking engagements and training sessions, meeting and helping many people both inside and outside of prisons.
Emma Nesbit/Newsletter Editor, Volunteer
Emma has recently joined the BTG to take up the mantle of Newsletter Editor.
A somewhat late starter in life in terms of educational achievements, Emma graduated in 2005 with a degree in BA (Hons) Law and Social Science, where she first developed her interest in prisons in both a legal and criminological context. Emma's first Dissertation studied the implications of the Human Rights Act on female short term sentencing and suicide rates. In more recent times, she is presently in the final stages of her MSc in Criminology and Criminal Psychology and is about to commence the writing up of her latest Dissertation which considers whether ethnic and religious based allegiances between offenders present a legitimate risk to the dynamics of prison power and control. There are no further strays into the world of academia planned at any point afterwards although she secretly aspires to have a qualification list as long and as impressive as James's.
Emma has worked as a volunteer mentor at a local prison with PPO offenders and previously to this, briefly as an Appropriate Adult. As such, she is hoping that she can bring her knowledge, academically but more importantly personally, to individuals and families involved with BTG.
Outside having her head glued in textbooks, Emma enjoys an active social life with friends, particularly walking, cinema and gigs. She is an avid cat lover and raises money regularly to support local animal charities. She also likes wine!
Connor Ingamells/Penpal Co-ordinator, Volunteer
I am currently reading Criminology and Forensic Investigation at the University of Lincoln and looking to graduate in 2014. Coming to the end of my degree I decided I would like to get involved with some work relevant to my degree by working with ex-offenders. It was whilst searching for volunteering opportunites in local prisons that I stumbled across the BTG penpal scheme, and was thrilled to be offered the position as penpal co-ordinator. I have also applied for other voluntary positions to undertake over the summer before my final year of university, including Samaritans and the Appropriate Adult Services. I hope that by volunteering at BTG I can improve the lives of offenders as well as achieve some self-development and experience of my own.
Kath/ Area Rep for Plymouth, Devon, Volunteer
I joined the RAF in 1992, 4 years later I left to marry and raise my family.
Over the last 2 years I became interested in volunteering and promoting awareness.
I found BTG when I was looking for information on writing to prisoners, and found I wanted to do more to help as I now have more time do do so.
In my spare time I like to write short stories, reading, walking and spending time with my children.
Allyce Swift/Area Rep for East Midlands, Volunteer
My name is Allyce Swift and I live in the East Midlands with my family. I am a legal student reading Law at my local university - hoping to eventually specialise in Prison Law.
I am a coordinator for the campaign IPP Prisoners Rights. I am also the area rep for the Midlands for BTG, which in my opinion is a really great group, so I will be posting as and when I find some relevant information that may be of interest to yourselves.
Susan Williams/Area Rep for West Midlands, Volunteer
I have four boys, each of which I am proud of in all different ways.
I became interested in the work of Bridging the Gap, due to my son being in prison. After a short while of receiving help and support, I felt it was my time to give back and help others.
Many people are unaware of help and support that is available, so I hope I can bring my knowledge of the prison journey to assist others.