From the General Manager's Office
Alison Thom, General Manager Rehabilitation and Reintegration
Welcome to the latest issue of CorrVolunteer and welcome to Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services (RRS).
The Department has established RRS as a single service for all the rehabilitation and reintegration activities that have to do with leading offenders to a crime-free life. As volunteers play a big part in this, you are now also part of RRS.
The change from Prison Services to RRS should not bring any immediate changes for you. The volunteer coordinators will continue to do their excellent job of facilitating the day-to-day running of prison volunteering.
Taking the opportunity offered in the establishment of RRS, we look forward to strengthening the support for volunteers and refreshing and investigating any innovative new services that could include volunteers. Of course we won’t do this without talking to you, the volunteers and stakeholders.
We are very pleased to have so many volunteers in prison as they play an important role in guiding the prisoners to an offence-free lifestyle.
Early in 2011 the Department will be introducing an electronic entry system in prisons for non-departmental staff including volunteers. This system will assist in making your entry to prisons simpler whilst maintaining a high security level. You can find more information in this issue of CorrVolunteer.
Thank you for all your efforts and support in 2010, we look forward to seeing you back in good health in 2011 and wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Celebrating volunteers internationally
Many events around the country recognised International Volunteer Day on Sunday 5 December 2010.
The events were varied and included a BBQ/picnic in Outhwaite Park, Auckland with nearly 300 people attending. Around the country special church services paid tribute to the volunteers and many morning or afternoon teas were held.
Many volunteers were presented with awards on International Volunteer Day in recognition of their efforts. Sandra Probert is one of them. She is teaching a 56-year old dyslexic prisoner in Rolleston to read and write, using material she has written herself during the last six years that is based on the phonetic reading system. Sandra is very passionate about helping others to read and write and has offered to share her programme with other volunteers.
Introducing Tracey Smith and Jenny Grant
The Department is pleased to introduce Tracey Smith and Jenny Grant, the two Volunteer Coordinators for the Southern Region.
Jenny has been employed by the Department since 2004 starting out in the Property Office, and then moving to Site Administration in 2005 as the Visit Coordinator in Rimutaka Prison.
She is really enjoying her role to support and encourage prison volunteers, who are “amazing people who selflessly give up their time to help and assist prisoners”.
In her spare time Jenny loves to sing. She was involved with the Company of Musical Players for seven years and is now singing with a group called ‘In-Cognito’. They have performed in charity nights raising money for Life Flight Trust and the Leukaemia Foundation. “Being on stage and knowing that you are helping someone somewhere is a huge buzz and always puts a smile on my face!”
Tracey Smith, the South Island Volunteer Coordinator, began her corrections career as a prison officer in the British Prison Service in 2003. She moved to New Zealand in 2006 and has been working as a Corrections Officer at Christchurch Men’s and Christchurch Women’s Prisons. She explains that while the prison system is quite different in England, being a prison officer anywhere in the world generally requires the same core skills.
Tracey is enjoying working with volunteers as they are so passionate about their work and their contribution helps make prisoners’ time in custody more constructive. “Seeing the volunteer programme from a non-uniform perspective has definitely opened my eyes to how valuable volunteers are within the Department of Corrections.”
Raising the Bars
After Canterbury Television aired the documentary ‘Raising the Bars’ in August, the South Island has seen a lot of new interest in volunteering.
Volunteer Coordinator Tracey Smith says that the increase from September to December has been about 75 percent. The documentary “Raising the Bar’ focuses on prison volunteers Carola Crawford and Pauline Garner who support and promote volunteering across all three prisons in the Canterbury region. Carola and Pauline have been supporting prisoners with distance education learning courses, literacy and numeracy, and library support.
More recently Carola and Pauline have also been helping the storybook dads or mums. Community organisations have offered books for this project. The prisoner practices reading the story with a volunteer till they get to the recording stage. The book, the CD and a Christmas card made by the prisoner are sent out to the children in time for Christmas.
In the documentary Carola and Pauline highlight the importance of volunteering within the prison environment and the benefits it has for prisoners’ rehabilitation and reintegration. “If I can make an impact on just one inmate, then my job’s done,” Carola says.
Getting into prison gets a lot easier
As Alison Thom mentioned in her message, early 2011 will see the introduction of an electronic prison entry system for non departmental staff.
The entry system will be installed in all prisons to make the entry process easier for approved visitors to the prisons. This includes volunteers, Kaiwhakamana and Fauta Pasifika. It will mean that every prison will have the same entry system and requirements.
You will be issued with a new ID/Swipe card with your photo, which will need to be presented every time that you enter the prison. There will be no need for any other form of identification. The card can be used at all the prisons you have approved access to. Your volunteer coordinator will contact you with details about when this system will start and how to get your cards.
Quilting-Stitch group at ARWCF
Did you know there is now a quilting-stitch group at ARWCF?
We are a group of five quilters who roster ourselves to visit every Friday morning. We work with 10-12 women. Many of them haven’t threaded a needle before.
We start off with hand piecing on a simple multi pieced and hand quilted shopping bag. From there they move on to pieced quilted blocks for single or double bed quilts.
Not only has the group seen some fantastic quilts roll out of the quilting group, literacy and numeracy skills have also improved as the women see the relevance of the old adage ‘measure twice, cut once’. Colour sense, design concepts and embellishments are the order of the day. The women enjoy ‘auditioning’ their fabric choices.
Fabric comes from all over the country as I ask fellow quilters and groups to assist with resources. My local Rotary Club has donated some funds for the purchase of pins, needles, batting, an iron and other essentials.
Induction Tongariro/Rangipo appreciated
On Saturday 30 October 2010 the chaplaincy team at Tongariro/Rangipo Prison organised a Training/Induction Day for the church volunteers.
The induction took place at St Andrews Church in Taupo; the use of the church hall was kindly offered by Reverend John Blundell.
More than 30 volunteers were welcomed by the chaplaincy team and Volunteer Coordinator Lynn Smith-McGregor. The volunteers received a handbook, explaining what is involved in becoming a church volunteer. A PowerPoint presentation showed the volunteers the many facts and history of the prison.
Other interesting things that the volunteers heard on the day were the monthly thematic approach of the Sunday services and the start of a Tauranga Moana Church Group.
The volunteers told the chaplaincy team that they had appreciated this annual event, especially getting the chance to catch up with everyone.