CorrVolunteer June 2012
From the General Manager's Office
Tena koutou katoa. He mihi whaturua ki tenei putanga o CorrVolunteer.
This month we celebrate Volunteer Awareness Week (17-23 June), and the theme of ‘building communities through volunteering’.
The efforts of volunteers are essential to building resilient communities, be they local regions, interest groups, online networks or people with similar or shared values.
At Corrections, we have a wonderful diverse community of volunteers who individually or collectively provide support for offenders addressing their needs and important links to the wider community for offenders. There are hundreds of volunteers working with offenders every week in prisons and in the community.
I hope that you have taken the opportunity to participate in a celebratory gathering in which we can, in a modest way, thank you and recognise you for your efforts.
You may have heard in the media that Corrections is in the process of considerable change as an organisation.
While frontline staff and volunteers are not affected by these changes, our intention is to build a more cohesive and unified team across the whole organisation with the aim of reducing re-offending
We continue to be extremely grateful for the work our volunteers do to support offenders returning to the community and maintaining community links and relationships.
Nga mihi nui kia koutou mo a koutou mahi. Haere ra.
Quilting continues to impress
Congratulations to the Quilt Stitch Group at ARWCF who have been nominated for the 2012’s Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Community Awards. The winners will be announced in a ceremony to be held in Parliament’s Banquet Hall in mid-July.
The Quilt Stitch ladies consistently demonstrate great commitment, skill, patience, resiliency and professionalism in their work with the women. Sewing skills are typically being lost to this generation, however these ladies are ensuring the women prisoners are empowered to provide the basics for themselves and their whanau. Further skills in literacy, numeracy, role modelling, communication and teamwork are also being practiced.
Volunteer Coordinator Francine Benefield reports that the ladies help improve the morale and confidence of the women. “The activity translates into a high calibre constructive activity provided by the group representing their community,” Francine says.
A donation of 40 quilts was made to Middlemore Hospital in early May.
Reconnecting Pasefika cultures
Three Hawke’s Bay prison Fautua Pasefika members were recently contracted to provide a performing arts programme to a small group of prisoners who identified as Pasefika.
The ten week programme involved music and dance from the Samoan, Cook Islands and Tongan cultures. Prisoners played drums and guitars and learnt songs as well as their meanings in the uplifting sessions. The offenders relished the opportunity to reconnect with their own culture, while also learning to respect the others. The eight offenders were issued with Certificates of Achievement, then performed at the Hawke’s Bay Prison Pacific Day in mid-May.
The small Fautua Pasefika team had a good relationship with the prison, and this was an opportunity to change that status. Their new-found role required further focus, structure, motivation and commitment; they were also required to exercise rules regarding boundaries with the prisoners themselves.
Feedback revealed the men enjoyed the opportunity to connect with their own culture and at the same time learn about other cultures. They felt privileged to participate and have tutors available from their local community.
Art therapy for the soul
The Karaka Special Treatment Unit (STU) at Waikeria Prison has recently held a blessing ceremony for their submissions in the ‘No. 8 Wire National Art Award 2012’ held at ArtsPost, Hamilton.
Art tutor and volunteer Ann Byford has been working with prisoners since October 2011, and recently for 10 weeks the five men were encouraged to try sculpture as an alternative to painting. The team took on the challenge, from planning to design, construction and finally blessing – all with an extraordinary outcome.
The men had never worked with the materials before, had never sculptured, and it was therefore a brand new journey for them. To then learn that they have become finalists is truly exciting.
All finalists and winners’ art is exhibited from 8 June – 16 July 2012 and available for purchase from the Waikato Museum.
Bible brings solace
In association with the NZ Bible Society, a special NZ prison edition of the Good News Bible is available to prisoners who are committed to their faith.
The special edition contains the same text as the standard Good News Bible, but also includes several colour reproductions of religious-themed prisoner art, along with a brief summary of the Bible story.
Director of the Prison Chaplaincy Service, the Reverend Maku Potae says the Bible will help the prisoners make real changes in their lives.
“The idea was to create something special for prisoners that uses some of the wonderful art we see coming from these men. It is intended to encourage them and show them we appreciate the efforts they are making to turn their lives around,” says Maku.
Over a hundred competition entries were submitted, and the panel of four judges (including two from Arts Access Aotearoa) selected the featured colour reproductions.
Approximately 2,300 prisoners currently attend programmes run by the Prison Chaplaincy Service. If you know of any prisoner who might benefit from receiving a copy of the Bible, contact and discuss this with a member of the Chaplaincy Team.
Marie makes her mark
Christchurch Women’s Prison is fortunate to reap the benefits of volunteer Marie Wills, who has been visiting women in prison every fortnight for the past 37 years.
Marie, aged 90, began visiting prison in response to a call from her church group. Marie says at that time they made a commitment to visit women, one-on-one, every two weeks for the length of their sentence.
The visits to the prison are made through Prisoners' Aid and Rehabilitation Trust (PART). Consistently, Marie has visited prisoners during Christmas, holidays and times of family illness and death.
In 2010 Corrections gave Marie a citation in recognition for her prison work. Marie isn’t quite as active as she once was but she still leads a Bible study group along with her prison visits. She gets up at 6.30am and still drives her car.
Sadly the Fautua Pasefika community farewell Ms Puaula Fetineiai, active at Whanganui Prison, who passed away peacefully on 21 April 2012, and Sione Takataka, of the Tongan community, previously active at Waikeria Prison.
Hui a tonic for the soul
Many strands of the Corrections workforce based in Dunedin and Invercargill joined together in March for a Maori staff network hui.
Two local Dunedin Kaiwhakamana, Hatarei Temo and Morehu Ranginiwa provided support to the Maori staff, participated in the powhiri with their Te Reo skills and whaikorero (speech making). They also had the opportunity to share their deep knowledge of Tikanga which they also regularly impart to prisoners.
Cheerio to two VC's
Sadly we’re saying goodbye to Jenny Grant and Tracey Smith who are moving on.
Wellington area Volunteer Coordinator Jenny Grant, having served eight years, has left Corrections. Jenny spoke of the challenges in her role, in particular APPE. “This was a stressful time but I received a lot of support from volunteers,” she said. Jenny left with these words; “You as volunteers do excellent work in aiding and assisting with rehabilitation and reintegration…..you are making a difference in people’s lives, thank you so much.” Jenny also acknowledged her supportive colleagues.
South Island Volunteer Coordinator Tracey Smith is moving to Melbourne, after six years with Corrections. Tracey says she has very much enjoyed the experience and job satisfaction the role provided. “There are some amazing people out there in the community with a lot of time, experiences and passion to help…. thank you and all the best.” Tracey also thanked fellow staff and managers for making opportunities safe and enjoyable for volunteers. South Island volunteers can contact Paula Friend if you require assistance (see details below).