Toys made by prisoners at Otago Corrections Facility for children spending Christmas in hospital.Nutritious and basic meals will be served to approximately 8,550 people in prison on 25 December.

The lunch will consist of roast chicken and vegetables, while corned beef and salad sandwiches will be served for dinner.

“Our Christmas lunch is the same at all of the 17 prisons we manage nationwide and is a similar meal to what has been provided on Christmas day for many years. It consists of roast chicken and vegetables, a standard meal from our menu. Dinner will be sandwiches, with the addition of two fruit mince tarts to mark the day,” says Corrections National Commissioner Rachel Leota.

“All Christmas meals are prepared and cooked by prisoners learning hospitality skills through employment in prison kitchens, under the guidance of qualified catering instructors.

“Christmas day is much the same as any other day in prison, but where possible we offer additional sports and other activities.

“We know Christmas can be a really difficult time for people in prison and their families, so we hold whānau activities in December where kids can read books, make gifts and play games with their mum or dad to celebrate the season.”

Corrections staff and people in prison have also been giving back to their local communities in the build up to Christmas.

Crochet reindeer made by men at Invercargill Prison for children of prisoners in the area.Men at Invercargill Prison have been busy making crochet reindeer for children of prisoners in the local area, while men at Otago Corrections Facility have used their carpentry skills to build toys for children spending Christmas in hospital.

Freshly harvested produce grown by prisoners all around New Zealand has been donated to local foodbanks and charities, including the Salvation Army and Christchurch City Mission.

Staff at prisons and Community Corrections offices across the country are collecting gifts for both children of prisoners and local charities, while staff at National Office are donating gifts and essential items to the Wellington City Mission.

“Christmas gives people in prison the opportunity to give back, which we know provides a sense of purpose and pride and helps them feel connected to the community. This can be an important step towards making positive changes in their lives,” says Rachel Leota.

“Corrections operates a 24-hour service 365 days a year, so I’d like to acknowledge our frontline staff who will be working this Christmas. Thank you for your commitment to making a difference for the people we manage and keeping our prisons and communities safe throughout the holiday period.”