Thanks to the work of a dedicated volunteer at Spring Hill Corrections Facility, a native Mandarin speaking prisoner has now secured a job in the kitchen and can access a wider range of opportunities and activities.

National Volunteer Week will be celebrated between 18-24 June, and it is an opportunity for Corrections to celebrate the work done by volunteers in prison and across New Zealand, including the impact they have on prisoners as teachers, mentors and a bridge to the outside world.

Life for a non-English speaking prisoner can be restrictive, especially when activities in the trades and industry space require clear communication to help keep the prisoner safe.

For one Howard League volunteer, the work they did with the Chinese prisoner has helped open doors previously closed to him based on his poor English.

“I was aware that the prisoner had food industry experience and wanted to work in the kitchen,” said Donna Gaskell, Principal Advisor Rehabilitation and Learning. “But after speaking to the kitchen manager, they felt the language barrier was too great to make it work,” she said.

The volunteer began working with the prisoner one on one in October 2016 and met with him weekly to help improve his English.

The patience and skill of the volunteer was rewarded recently when the kitchen manager indicated a willingness to hire the prisoner, who has now successfully been working in the kitchen for a month.

If you would like to become a volunteer at Spring Hill Correction Facility and make a difference in a prisoner’s life, please email Bridget Cover, Regional Volunteer Coordinator.