People in Corrections' care have stepped up to help make masks for the community.

Auckland Region Northern Regional Support Advisers Pacific, Albert Tupuola (left) and ‘Alapapa’ Matthew Timaloa (right), with Mangere Budgeting and Family Support Services Chief Executive Darryl Evans, who will distribute the face coverings to families.Women's Corrections Facility

A whole lot of aroha (love) is making its way around south Auckland communities in the form of safe and colourful face coverings made by women at ARWCF.

“I’m very proud as a sewing officer that we can participate in this community-spirited project,” says Sewing Instructor Michelle Jennings.

Co-ordinated by ARWCF Assistant Prison Director Florence Atimalala, 400 face masks have already been completed and dropped off at several marae and community organisations.

These agencies, with the help of Auckland-based Community Corrections teams, will distribute the face masks to whānau and aiga in need, predominantly in the south Auckland area.

The pleated face coverings are made from 100 per cent cotton fabric that was donated to the prison. Each comes with an easy- to-read health and safety instruction tag based on advice provided by the Ministry of Health, and also features a Pasifika-inspired design.

“The women involved in this initiative are absolutely over the moon to be able to give back to the community and provide face coverings for families who may not be able to afford them,” says Florence.

Tagata Pasifika attended the handover of masks to the team who will distribute to the community, and interviewed staff about the making of the masks. The film crew also followed the distribution team to a Pasifika community organisation, who are one of the appreciative recipients of the prison-made masks. Watch the video below.

Invercargill Prison

Men at Invercargill Prison have enjoyed the challenge of doing something quite different and are proud to be helping the Salvation Army. Men at Invercargill Prison have completed their first batch of fabric face coverings for the community. Volunteer Co-ordinator Jane King says an initial 40 reusable face coverings, made by men in sewing industries, were delivered to the Salvation Army recently, with planning for a further delivery.

The non-medical fabric face coverings will be used by Salvation Army staff and volunteers when they go to house visits in the community. Any remaining, and future deliveries will be given to Salvation Army clients.

“Many people supported by the service are of vulnerable health status,” says Jane. “The masks will help keep Salvation Army staff and volunteers, and their clients, safe and well.”

Brenda from the Salvation Army says they have been using disposable masks up to now, but they are being used up very quickly. “We can wash these fabric ones and keep using them. When we get more, we will give them to our clients who cannot afford to buy them. We are very grateful for the supply,” she says.

The prison sewing team has been making scarves for Scout groups across the district for many years and the face coverings are being made from scraps of cotton material left over from this and other community projects. Jane says the men have enjoyed the challenge of doing something quite different and are proud to be contributing to an important local group.

“We enjoy making different stuff and it is great to help others,” says one of the sewers.

“It’s great to be able to help in the COVID-19 pandemic,” says another, “we are being well isolated from it here.”