Canterbury Community Corrections is interested in hearing from not for profit community organisations which need manual labour support with their projects.

“We have many thousands of hours of community work labour in Canterbury,” says Senior Community Work Supervisor Jason Tana. “We are looking to share this around the community, and benefit as many organisations as possible.”

Corrections often hears of projects that would have struggled to get underway or to be completed if it hadn’t been for the support from Corrections and the offenders they manage.

Last year, more than 2,000 people on community work sentences in Canterbury contributed more than 160,000 hours of manual labour.

Community work is a sentence of the court that requires offenders to give back to the community against which they offended, by working for free for local community and non-profit groups. It offers offenders the opportunity to take responsibility for their offending and give back to the community in a meaningful way.

“We aim to offer support to a range of organisations, and to add value to those organisations and while we do this, to engage offenders and help them to learn useful personal and, potentially, employable skills.”

“Coming in to winter, it would also be good to get a range of indoor and outdoor projects to give us options for all weather conditions.

“Many community organisations depend on the support of volunteers and are on extremely tight budgets. This is where we can help out, where organisations are really stretched or this work wouldn’t be done otherwise. We don’t want to be doing work that is usually paid work done by a local business.”

Traditionally, community work projects have included activities like clearing, maintenance and beautification work for parks, churches, schools and other public spaces; help with planting and landscaping; painting; supporting various animal and community charities; and sometimes more specialist work, “depending on the skills and qualifications of the people on sentence at the time.”

Jason says Corrections has some specific health and safety requirements. There are also some projects which won’t be suitable for offenders, and some offenders which won’t be suitable for some projects; but that Corrections will talk all these things through with the community groups.

There are also opportunities for groups wanting longer term support to look at becoming a Community Work Agency.

“This means that they are managing the offender at their work site with the support of Corrections,” says Jason.

Agencies provide regular work and supervision for a person, or people, who come to their place of work on a regular basis.

“The sorts of organisations that may offer agency placements include charity shops, animal rescue and social support organisations, and local community facilities that need regular support.”

“Again, Corrections will ensure there are robust health and safety processes and supervision processes in place and we are looking after everyone’s safety,” says Jason. “Most organisations have good processes in this area and we go through a full briefing with any potential agency.”

According to Jason, a number of agencies using community work labour end up employing some of the workers or retaining them as a volunteer on completion of their sentence.

“This is a great outcome for everyone.”

Not for profit community organisations wanting to investigate whether the support of Community Corrections will work for them, should contact Jason.

“Give me a call, and we can talk through where and how we can help,” says Jason. “It won’t always work, and we won’t be able to do it all, but we can certainly work through what is possible.”