For National Volunteers Week, we’re taking the time to acknowledge the 1,700 people across the country who share their time and skills volunteering in prison.
“We really appreciate the dedication of our volunteers. They play a key role in helping prisoners to change their lives, making our communities safer,” says Stephen Cunningham, Director Offender Employment and Reintegration.
National Volunteers Week is an annual event run by Volunteering NZ. The theme for the week this year is “volunteers: the heart of our community”.
During the last financial year volunteers made over 18,000 visits to prisons from Kaikohe to Invercargill. They offer prisoners support with literacy and numeracy education, art, drama, sewing, knitting, life skills, cooking, budgeting, hobbies, fitness, reintegration and cultural and religious services.
“Our prison volunteers are incredibly valuable in preparing prisoners for a better future when they return to the community,” says Stephen. “They help prisoners learn skills which can help them gain employment and support themselves on their release, stay connected with their communities and provide a positive support network. Ultimately, this helps reduce the likelihood of them reoffending and keeps our communities safe.”
This year ten volunteers from Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Tongariro Prison, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison and Otago Corrections Facility are being recognised for their exceptional contribution with a Corrections Volunteer Award.
“The work our volunteers do complements the services Corrections offer to prisoners, for example in health and wellbeing, cultural and religious services, reading and writing, parenting/life skills and other education, training and rehabilitation programmes available in prison,” says Stephen.
“We’re grateful that our volunteers choose to share their talents and skills and make a real difference to the lives of the men and women they work with in prison.”