Young men attending the youth expo at Rimutaka Prison.An expo for youth in Rimutaka Prison recently was an opportunity for young men under 25 to transition from prison to the community by building connections with organisations so they can make positive changes in their lives.  The expo was for sentenced prisoners as well as those on remand.

“The expo was a great opportunity to show the men what help’s available to them, so they can start thinking about that before they return to the community,” says Brittany McNamara, Service Manager at Wellington Community Corrections, and one of the expo organisers.

“The work we do now with the young people we manage can make a positive difference to their lives, to our communities and to future generations.”

The expo, organised by Corrections’ Youth Champions from across Wellington introduced attendees to the Salvation Army, employers, training providers, service providers and recruitment companies as well as sports organisations like the NZ Institute of Sport and Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

The expo was also an opportunity for the men to be introduced to probation staff and talk to them about opportunities in the community as well as what’s expected of them if they are released on parole or with release conditions.

Wellington District Youth Champs.Ministry of Social Development and NZTA were also on hand whose staff provided men with information about connecting with Work and Income New Zealand, and explaining the process to get their licences reinstated.

Specific youth-orientated organisations including Youthline and Youth Inspire which services Stokes Valley and Wainuiomata also attended and were able to provide participants about asking for support.

For Jake*, attending the forum was beneficial and informative; “I know what I want to do when I get out. There are heaps of people to help me. I didn’t know there were heaps of people keen to support us.”

He also said the forum had helped with his future education; “This has inspired me to work harder. I want to be a mechanic.”

Corrections Youth Champions are at every prison and Community Corrections site. The champions are staff members who have been nominated to be champions of young people managed at their site.  One of their purposes is to support young people to unlock and realise their potential and to support colleagues working with youth.

*Not his real name