Prisoner rehab group battling on
KELSEY WILKIE KELSEY.WILKIE@FAIRFAXMEDIA.CO.NZ
The operators of the Manawatu organisation which helps to rehabilitate prisoners say the group will endure with or without government funding.
The Manawatu Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society (Pars) was forced to become an independent organisation earlier this year when the closure of its national parent body left it without access to Department of Corrections funding.
The closure of the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Trust (Part) meant each member, such as Manawatu Pars, had to negotiate individually with Corrections, as the trust had held the contract.
The organisation has secured funding from Corrections to keep it going until at least the middle of next year.
Pars patron Ron Love says it will continue even if there is no more money after that.
"We're going to keep going in some form or another because we have passion about what we're doing."
Field service manager Krys Baker said the group were operating on a voluntary basis during the transition phase, before they secured the funding.
The organisation has 35 volunteers but Baker said more would be appreciated.
The group now has a local committee in charge of governance.
"Previously we were under a national organisation, now we're locally autonomous," field worker Garry Buckman said.
"Initially, it was quite difficult because there was no structure in place.
"There was no-one here in the office to really show us what our roles were.
"It's been a little bit of a process . . . that has been a bit of a challenge."
After hearing in January that Part was closing, Buckman said it had taken until now for the Manawatu organisation to find its feet.
He said no matter what happened they would continue operating, because they believed in what they were doing.
"We will fight tooth and nail to keep it going," Baker said.
"What we do to try and change the lives of these people who have been in prison . . . at the end of the day, it's for the community.
"Just like anyone, they deserve a chance. "If we can give them that hope, that chance and that support - that's what is great about it.
"It's giving them a chance to become part of the community again."
- Manawatu Standard
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