BY MARGARET PHILLIPS
Offenders carrying out work sentences are contributing to several community projects in Gore including the refurbishment of a garage to be used by judges for the South Island Dressage Championships, which will be held at the Gore A&P Showgrounds in February next year.
Department of Corrections service manager Angela Casey said an important aspect of the community work sentence was the requirement offenders give back to the community against which they offended.
“Our goal is to use these offenders’ time as effectively and productively as possible,” Miss Casey said.
“We do this by supporting local community groups with free labour and support, providing offenders with work and living skills, aptitudes, and building partnerships in the community that can lead to better understanding and support for offenders who are looking at [a] new start,” she said.
Three new initiatives had been undertaken by offenders, which would help community groups.
Work is almost complete on the garage refurbishment to be used by the dressage judges. used by the judges for a showjumping event this December.
“The project supports the needs of community and offenders and has a cultural relevance for many of the people on sentence with us.” –Service manager Angela Casey
A new project based at Te Whanau O Hokonui Marae, that involves offenders weaving baskets, piupui and poi, will begin next month.
The programme is offered by the Department of Corrections in partnership with Southern Reap.
Service manager Angela Casey said the crafts would be donated to schools and education centres as well as through the marae.
“The project supports the needs of community and offenders and has a cultural relevance for many of the people on sentence with us,” Miss Casey said.
“Through the project, which runs once a week over six weeks, offenders will contribute something useful to the community and also learn the art of flax weaving with kawa [protocols] and tikanga [rules],” she said.
Basket weaving could offer a useful pastime and even the opportunity for creating a small income.
“It offers great flexibility and can fit around schooling and other parenting commitments,” she said.
Another group is involved in re-purposing wooden pallets into picnic tables and vegetable/herb planters. Other ongoing projects in Gore include beautification and maintenance for the Waimea Plains Railway Trust, clearing tracks for walking and biking and general grounds maintenance at Dolamore Park.
“There are so many local, not-for-profit groups that rely on already stretched volunteers and resources, who need a helping hand,” Miss Casey said.
“We are proud to be helping out.”