Prisoners from Rimutaka Prison’s Faith Based Unit (FBU) have been working at least once a week on a house in Waitangirua for the international not-for-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity.
Every Monday (and on the occasional Thursday) since early October last year the Faith Based Unit’s community work parties have been working on the house preparing it for a deserving local family.
“We were approached through Prison Fellowship New Zealand (PFNZ) to help Habitat for Humanity and we jumped at the chance to get involved in such a worthy cause,” says Acting Rimutaka Prison Manager Richard Symonds.
“The work parties are involved in general labour around the house, they paint, dig holes, maintain the grounds and anything else they are asked to do.
“The guys are extremely enthusiastic about their work and helping out. It is one tangible way in which they can repay the community.
“The FBU has two community work parties made up of approximately twelve specially selected minimum security prisoners who go into the community five days a week to work.
“As well as working on the Habitat house the FBU work gangs currently maintain 17 churches in the local area. They do full grounds maintenance, wood chopping, set up for functions, painting and help in any other way they can.
“These work parties are extremely important in giving these prisoners skills and routines they’ve never had before. Many of these guys have never worked in a steady job and kept ‘normal hours’. With the work parties they get up each morning, have their breakfast and head out to work just like they would in the community.”
This is about improving public safety and research shows that prisoners who gain meaningful employment upon release are less likely to reoffend. The purpose of the community work parties is for prisoners to not only give something back to the community but to gain skills and a work ethic they may use upon release.
Habitat for Humanity Project Manager Bruce McLean speaks highly of the FBU work gang and the help they have given to this house.
“If you total the hours these prisoners have done they are our biggest labour support by a long way. They are enthusiastic, polite and interested in what we are doing here and I think it has been beneficial for all involved,” he says.
“Getting regular volunteers along can be difficult. It is great to have a labour force we can rely on. They are ready to go as soon as they arrive, they don’t need much guidance from me. Even the work parties’ Corrections Officers have pitched in and helped. It has been a great team effort.
“I would have the FBU work gangs back to help me any time. They have been excellent.”
Notes to reporter:
• For information on the Faith Based Unit please use the following link:
• For information on Habitat for Humanity please use the following link:
http://www.habitat.org.nz (external website)
• The house is due to be dedicated and handed over on Saturday 7 March
For further information contact the Communications Services Desk:
Phone: (04) 460 3365
After hours: (021) 761 828
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