Society given lifeline until next year

Last updated 09:00 22/02/2014

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Manawatu Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society has accepted a Corrections Department contract that will see the organisation focus on the reintegration of former prisoners into society.

The contract also secures its future to at least June 30, next year.

The Manawatu society is one of several Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Societies (Pars) throughout the country that were left to fend for themselves after their national parent body, Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Trust, closed last month.

Corrections had a contract with the trust, which meant the various member societies, including Manawatu Pars, had to negotiate individual contracts.

"The early discussions were between a grant with lower accountability or a contract with a higher level of accountability," said Manawatu Pars president Garry Buckman.

"We were pretty certain we wanted to go for a higher level because it would allow us to function better, mainly to employ staff."

The society had been running on a volunteer basis since January 31.

"We're actively recruiting staff now," Mr Buckman said. For now, the society would hire one fulltime staff member and one part-time.

Having the contract would also allow the society time to prepare to tender for Corrections contracts.

"We have virtually 18 months to get ourselves into a strong and viable position, because at the end of that 18 months all the Corrections contracts go out to open tender," he said.

"So that's our challenge . . . to get ourselves into a position where we'll be strong enough and viable enough to be able to tender in the open market for all the Corrections that are going, the out of the gate contract and also the contract that we are working on, which is for prisoners that have been in for two years or more."

Palmerston North Salvation Army community ministries manager Kevin Richards welcomed the news.

"My understanding is that the contractual requirements are slightly different from before, but it will allow Pars to continue performing a similar role, which is great for us and also for our shared clients, so we're really pleased about that," he said.

He said Pars' work supported the work of the Salvation Army, "and if Pars didn't exist it would have a significant negative impact on our service, so we are grateful".

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- Manawatu Standard

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