Community work teaches new skills

16:00, Mar 19 2014
Community service workers
DIGGING IN: The Department of Corrections says community work gives offenders the opportunity to learn new skills and make a difference in communities.



This is the last time I do community service.

Three hundred hours of unpaid work later and I've learned my lesson.

I completed my final two hours on March 7 after being sentenced to 100 hours for the third time.

It was for a burglary I committed last year with a group of people.


Twice a week I get picked up at 7.30am and get taken to New Lynn's probation offices where we find out what we're doing that day.

Sometimes we go to Motat or Khyber Pass' Anglican Church but my favourite place to work is at Avondale's St Pius Catholic Church where I do gardening.

I pull out the weeds and dig up the soil. It's quite cool because I learned how to use the tools and there's more shade which helped when we were working in the heat.

That was the worst bit, the heat. We got two breaks, one for morning tea and another for lunch. The food isn't very good, it's a filled roll or sometimes noodles.

There are three supervisors with us and they're pretty nice. They tell the boys to stay away from the girls and vice versa.

There are usually more boys then girls, sometimes I'm the only one which can be intimidating.

I finish at 4pm and then I get dropped back home after another stop at the probation offices.

My friends haven't been through community work, I'm the only one.

They just laugh at me and tell me to stay out of trouble.

I'd give the same advice to others now. Three times is enough for me.

After watching the builders work on the church's renovation I thought I might go into construction.

I like working outdoors.

Then again, it was pretty hot outside this summer.

I'm not sure what's next for me, I just know it's not working for free.



Fewer offenders are doing more community work in Waitemata.

Figures from the Department of Corrections show the number of offenders sentenced to community work has dropped by 424 people in the last two years but the number of hours completed rose by nearly 8000.

Northern probation operations manager Alastair Riach says community work gives offenders the opportunity to learn new skills and make a difference in communities.

Corrections is hoping to reduce recidivism by 25 per cent by 2017.

"We hope community work will help them make changes in their lives and in doing so reducing the likelihood of re-offending as well as keeping the community safe," Mr Riach says.

More than 8000 offenders sit in jails throughout New Zealand compared to 31,000 who undertake community based sentences.

They may be required to do between 40 and 400 hours of unpaid community work for non-profit organisations alongside their regular jobs.

Western Leader