The tireless efforts of a number of volunteers at Manawatu Prison were celebrated when Corrections presented the inaugural Volunteer Recognition Awards at a ceremony late last week, in association with International Volunteers Day.
Teams and individual volunteers were acknowledged and thanked for their positive contribution to prison life.
Prison Manager Peter Howe believes these awards are extremely important in acknowledging the hard work volunteers put in.
“The amount of time these people freely give is invaluable and I’d like to congratulate today’s award recipients for their efforts and dedication,” he says.
“Many of our volunteers offer constructive activities in prisons and are part of rehabilitative and reintegrative processes available to prisoners, which is a key tool in reducing re-offending.
“The existence of a diverse and energetic pool of volunteers brings a community perspective to our services and contributes towards helping offenders to positively return to the community,” says Mr Howe.
This diversity of experience and knowledge was reflected in the award recipients honoured today. Special acknowledgement was given to Reine Gordon who offers mentoring support in Alpha Unit, as well as literacy and piano tuition.
“Reine has been a mother figure to many prisoners over the years, supporting and encouraging change within the members of the Alpha Unit through her loyalty and commitment in visiting the prison as a volunteer over the years.
“She has also supported individuals who desired to develop their literacy skills by using her teaching skills and background where needed, again on a voluntary basis under the umbrella of Manawatu Chaplaincy,” says Mr Howe
The Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation (PARS) team from Palmerston North was also honoured for their voluntary contribution to prison life.
"The benefits of providing constructive activities for prisoners, such as art and design tuition, cannot be overstated. "Bored prisoners are more likely to be disruptive and troublesome for Corrections staff. Constructive activities motivate prisoners to change their lives and, for some, offer the possibility of using newly-learned skills post release," says Mr Howe.
Corrections is always looking for new volunteers who can bring constructive activities into prisons. At present there is a particular need for volunteers who can assist with literacy support, creative writing, life skills, health promotion, sports activities and a wide range of arts activities. If you know someone who may be able to help, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (04) 495 8428 for more information.
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