From the General Manager's Office
In this issue of CORRvolunteer we highlight Volunteer Awareness Week, and showcase some of the many and varied activities that volunteers provide in our prisons around the country. We feature a successful new knitting programme at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, a pilot Creative Writing workshop at Waikeria Prison and a prisoner art exhibition which was recently organised by the Prison Chaplaincy Service of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Constructive activities like these offer important opportunities for prisoners to learn skills, while maintaining motivation and keeping up activity levels. We know from experience that bored prisoners are more likely to become disruptive, so volunteer activities and services which help reduce idleness are extremely valuable in supporting us in our work as well as providing prisoners with a wide range of worthwhile skills and activities.
My staff and I will continue to work with voluntary and community sector organisations to support an even wider range of activities in our prisons. We are always welcoming to new ideas and initiatives to support prisoners.
In tough economic times, we all need to be adaptable and responsive to need. There is very little we can immediately do to stem the flow of prisoners through our gates and we must provide accommodation for them. We are adding capacity at four existing sites over the next year to cope with increasing prisoner numbers. You may rest assured that the necessary facility and infrastructure changes, as well as additional staff allocations will be made, in order to manage the extra volume and ensure that safety standards are maintained.
Once again, I thank you all for your ongoing contribution to improving prison life. I remain committed to meeting the challenges ahead in partnership with you and your organisations.
General Manager Prison Services
Putting kids first
Nicki Winn, Coordinator of the South Auckland Health Foundation’s Wool Programme, was presented with colourful baby blankets, beanies and booties. These were knitted by the prisoners in the Management Separates Unit at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility (ARWCF).
Over 40 crocheted or knitted blankets and almost as many beanies were made into parcels with other knitted clothing. They were donated to families of new borns at Middlemore Hospital, the Neonatal Unit and families in the Counties Manukau community.
“This programme gives the women a real sense of purpose,” remarks Nina Haines, Assistant Chaplain at ARWCF. “Most of these women have never knitted or crocheted before and they are extremely proud of their handiwork. They take great delight in working out their patterns and colours and show off the finished items to their friends.”
All the knitting wool is donated as part of the programme, and Rotary Clubs were instrumental in providing funds for basic equipment such as storage bins, knitting needles and crochet hooks.
“Not only are these women learning a new skill, it’s something constructive and useful that they can give back to society,” says Nina.
As always, there is a huge demand for warm knitted garments in the winter months and wool is in short supply. If you are able to donate any spare wool or acrylic knitting yarn in any ply or any colour, please email email@example.com or phone (04) 495 8428.
If you would like to learn more about the Wool Programme please visit www.sahf.org.nz or ring Nicki Winn on (09) 2708808.
Introducing Anya Whiting
Anya Whiting has recently been appointed Volunteer Coordinator for all the South Island prisons. She is already a familiar face in Canterbury prisons, having been with the Department since 2007 and was most recently the Programme Coordinator at Christchurch Women’s and Rolleston Prisons.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my role as Programmes Coordinator,” remarks Anya. “It gave me great insight into the importance of volunteers within prisons, so I am now delighted to be a volunteer coordinator.
“I truly believe the role of the volunteer is paramount to the realisation of the Department’s goals of reducing re-offending and successfully reintegrating offenders back into the community.”
Anya is looking forward to holding a ‘Meet and Greet’ in mid to late July with volunteer team leaders, coordinators and independent volunteers at Canterbury Prisons.
“I see this as a good opportunity to get to know as many volunteers as I can and discuss future volunteering options,” says Anya. “I also plan on travelling down to Otago and Invercargill Prisons by the end of July, hopefully making this a regular occurrence in the future.”
Over the course of six weeks volunteer John Keall ran a workshop on creative writing for prisoners in Rata Unit at Waikeria Prison.
John has a rich background in education, including many years as a High School teacher in Waihi and as a teacher at Waikeria Prison.
The course was a first for Waikeria and John went into the first session with an open mind. He took each session as it came, using his skills to engage the men in related conversation and pushing them to expand their knowledge and mental ability. After the first session three students remained. Although disappointing at first, it soon became clear that those remaining were really keen to learn and explore this genre. They wrote some poetry and short stories.
The purpose of this course was to challenge the men and to give them something on which to focus, rather than giving into boredom. Overall the course was a real success and John is hoping to run a further course in July this year for a second group of students.
Prison art transcends barriers
The Prison Chaplaincy Service of Aotearoa New Zealand hosted the New Zealand section of the 2009 International Prisoners Art Contest from 6 to 8 May at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul.
Hon Dr Pita R. Sharples, Associate Minister of Corrections, opened the exhibition of 63 entries from prisons around the country. The works were judged by Wellington artists and Massey University art tutors. The five winning entries have gone to Austria for the international competition on 1 July 2009.
David Major, National Director of the Prison Chaplaincy Service, said in support of the initiative, “Many prisoners find it difficult to express themselves through language for a variety of reasons. But they often find they are able to do this well through art. The Prison Chaplaincy encourages art as a form of self –expression. The depth of some of these works is exceptional.”
Encouraging all to create
Are you interested in prison arts? Do you enjoy reading about the role of arts and cultural activities as constructive and rehabilitative tools in prisons?
Arts Access Aotearoa, in partnership with the Department of Corrections, is developing a national arts strategy and arts plans for New Zealand prisons. Arts Access Aotearoa is writing positive stories about arts activities in prisons and undertaking research.
To subscribe to Arts Access Aotearoa’s monthly arts e-news, please contact Iona McNaughton via:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone: (04) 802 4349.
PARS on parade
Manawatu PARS volunteers were active participants in Volunteer Awareness Week events in Palmerston North. They raised the awareness of volunteering and encouraged others to give it a go.
On Tuesday 16 June 10 PARS members joined other community volunteers in a march from the Square to the Regent Theatre where they were addressed by the Mayor Jono Taylor and were treated to a sumptuous afternoon tea.
A volunteer Expo was held at the Palmerston North Convention Centre on Saturday 13 June. PARS volunteers handed out pamphlets and told everyone about the important work that PARS does with prisoners and their families.
Volunteering Unleashed – New times bring new approaches is the title of the biennial New Zealand National Volunteering Conference on 28 - 29 October 2009 in the Wellington Town Hall.
The main themes of the conference will be Volunteering Tomorrow: New Opportunities – new ways for volunteering and Inspiring Leaders: Advancement of the Profession of Volunteer Management. The event will reflect the even greater contribution volunteering can make to New Zealand, particularly in this time of economic downturn.
For further information, see the Volunteering NZ website www.volunteeringnz.org.nz