Volunteer quilters June Nixey and Janet Forbes have been recognised in the New Year honours for their service to prisoner rehabilitation.

The two women are members of the ‘Shut-in Stitchers’, a group who volunteer their time and expertise every Saturday morning to teach the traditional craft of quilting to women in Arohata Prison.

The initiative started back in 1993 when the original volunteers planned a six week course that they ‘couldn’t walk away from’. Over twenty years later June and Janet are still leading workshops at the prison, and this year they were each awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in recognition of their efforts.

Barbara Jennings, the National Advisor Volunteers at Corrections, is impressed with their commitment and dedication, and in particular their continued passion for what they do.

“The women pick up on the love these volunteers have for their craft and for sharing their skills. For some, it is the first time they have made something for their families, and it provides them with a real sense of achievement.

“It is wonderful to see volunteering within the Corrections environment recognised. Volunteers can choose to share their skills and expertise anywhere, and volunteering in a prison can be challenging, so it is excellent to see their service acknowledged”.

The ‘Stitchers’ were also recognised at Parliament last year at the ‘Big A’ awards, an event run by Arts Access Aotearoa.

“We are delighted that they received this well deserved recognition. It also raises the profile of volunteers working in prison and their achievements” said Richard Benge of Arts Access Aotearoa of the pairs’ inclusion in this year’s honours.

June Nixey, Janet Forbes and two of the quilts made by prisoners for Ronald McDonald House.