The effort made by offenders on community work sentences is providing a real boost to the Nelson Railway Society.
Community Probation & Psychological Services Nelson/Marlborough Area Manager Polly Cunningham says Corrections has been involved with the society since the late 1980s.
“Offenders on community work sentences have laid large sections of the rail track from Sovereign Street to Miyazu Gardens in Nelson and helped maintain and refurbish train carriages.”
Polly says community work sentences require offenders to do unpaid work in the community for non-profit organisations such as the Nelson Railway Society as reparation for their offending.
Bob Murray from the Nelson Railway Society says the help of Corrections has made laying the rail track possible.
“The offenders have laid over two kilometres of rail track and have cleared and cleaned the area as they go. They’ve also been heavily involved in improving the carriages we use, including cleaning the boiler and removing rust from the chassis and painting it.”
Bob says they often have groups of around 10 offenders working with them on the weekend as well as smaller groups during the week.
“They do a good job, we really appreciate the assistance and plan to keep using them to further expand the rail track.”
Bob says that in addition to the extra labour provided by the offenders, Corrections has also helped their organisation by providing some funding to purchase tools and safety equipment for the offenders to use.
“Being a volunteer society we don’t have a lot of money to spend, so getting funding to help the offenders do their work effectively helps us achieve our goals.”
Polly says that having offenders on community work sentences work with community groups also provides wider benefits.
Community work is a practical way for offenders to learn work habits and can assist them with getting employment, which has been shown to greatly reduce the chances of further offending.
Annually, New Zealand communities benefit from almost three million hours of labour supplied through Community Work sentences.
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