Transforming a life of crime into a life of promise - - Philanthropy NZ

Transforming a life of crime into a life of promise - - Philanthropy NZ
a life of crime
into a life of
Transforming a life of crime into a life of promise - - Philanthropy NZ
2 Transforming a life of crime into a life of promise


There is an ever-increasing social divide that exists within     forces with her sister Rebecca (a mental health nurse)
New Zealand.                                                     and started a journey that began in the Waikato Women’s
                                                                 Refuge and then progressed into Auckland Regional
Our social ranking amongst the Western world for mental          Women’s Correctional Facility.
and physical wellbeing is poor, our levels of homelessness,
child poverty, and illiteracy are all escalating and so too is   The goal of their privately funded social enterprise was to
the prison population, particularly the female population,       create a transition model that could take female recidivist
which has grown by 56% in the last five years.                   offenders from a life of crime to a life of promise through
                                                                 education, employment and intensive mentoring support.
At the grassroots level, addressing the social fabric of New
Zealand is not something too many citizens spend time            Results to date have seen the RAW Programme hailed
thinking about, but that’s precisely what Annah Stretton         by the NZ Department of Corrections as a breakthrough
did back in 2014 when she set up her charity called RAW          reintegration model with an unparalleled record of success.
(Reclaim Another Woman).
                                                                 Confident in their core transition model, RAW’s next goal
Motivated by the opportunity to apply some fresh thinking        is to expand the reach and influence that their model can
and fast doing for a group of women stuck in an unrelenting      have amongst women who are still inside serving out their
and intergenerational cycle of disadvantage, Annah joined        sentences.

                    Time to Go Behind the Wire

Going forward, RAW has the opportunity to positively             to one that inspires hope and fuels individual growth. Today
impact more women ‘behind the wire’ with an agenda that          many of the women don’t value themselves or believe they
is all about creating a culture of hope.                         have anything to offer the world, and that has to change.
                                                                 We need to widen their horizons on what possibilities could
“RAW has the ability to reframe the prison culture from one      exist for them on release and then give them the skills and
that implicitly supports and encourages all the anti-social      confidence to go after them!”
behaviours that landed the women into jail in the first place,
Transforming a life of crime into a life of promise 3

                                   RAW on the Inside
       Creating a culture of hope and ambition for a better future
     by introducing weekly lifestyle and academic programmes that
         walk alongside Correction’s rehabilitation programmes.

Summary of Proposition                                           women inside ‘Wiri’ and will be fully funded and supported
                                                                 by Waikato University.
Stage One: Inspiring Possibilities
                                                                 With a criminal record and child-rearing responsibilities,
                                                                 a very likely and viable option for female prisoners is to
In June 2018, RAW commenced a pilot series of lifestyle
                                                                 start their own business. Identifying an idea for their
learning workshops in Wiri Women’s Prison.
                                                                 entrepreneurial endeavour and then creating some
                                                                 foundation level skills while they are serving out their
The workshop content is intended to create a groundswell
                                                                 sentence goes a long way to enabling legal careers to
of engagement, motivation and hope amongst a broad
                                                                 prosper on the completion of a sentence.
cross-section of inmates. Ultimately, by engaging the
women in a non-threatening learning environment, RAW
hopes to open the door to more structured and vocational
learning being taken up.                                                “Lately I feel as though I’m breathing,
                                                                       sleeping, eating RAW and I absolutely
Examples of RAW’s Lifestyle Learning Workshops
                                                                      love it. At night time my dreams are no
                                                                     longer about the dreary life in here, they
•   Wellness – Nutrition, Breathing                                 are filled with vision, hope and happiness.
•   Creativity - Floral Art                                           I wake up ten times more excited about
•   Interpersonal & Leadership Skills                               the day, with the added benefit of feeling
•   Reconnecting Māori and Pasifika to their cultural                    as though I’m successfully working
    identity, heritage and whakapapa through portraiture.                towards the future” - Wiri prisoner

Stage Two: Entrepreneurs in the making

New Zealand is a country of small businesses, and many of
the prisoners will have inadvertently developed a number
of entrepreneurial skills in their ‘criminal’ lifestyles that
could be built upon and redirected into a legal career path.

Small cafes or catering businesses, floral art, make-
up artistry, jewellery making, personal trainers, cake
decorators. The options are endless but often what is
required to create an initial spark of interest and motivation
is having some options and pathways put in front of the

Bringing in external speakers and/or running workshops
suddenly makes these career prospects very real and
plausible to the women. The second phase is about
developing an entrepreneurial toolkit which RAW has
organised in conjunction with Waikato University. An
entry level entrepreneur’s paper will be available for 20
4 Transforming a life of crime into a life of promise

                               RAW on the Outside

Summary of Proposition                                         Each of these layers had been carefully chosen to counteract
                                                               the reintegration barriers that each woman faced as soon as
RAW offers an unprecedented level of support for offenders     they left the prison gates (see below).
serious about re-integrating back into the community and
building a legal life for themselves and ultimately their
                                                               What increases the odds of reoffending?
The multi-layered level of support begins on the inside with
Parole Hearing Support and then moves beyond the prison        1. Returning to familiar environments and associating
gates with safe accommodation based in the Waikato,               with familiar people. Both of these factors quickly
education scholarships with either Wintec or Waikato              undermine and unravel any newly formed habits or
University and the potential for part-time employment             behaviours and instead, act as a magnetic pull back to
opportunities (that would fit around study)                       old ways and old behaviours.
Transforming a life of crime into a life of promise 5

           RAW’s mission is to surround disadvantaged
       women with all the skills, confidence, and culture they
         need to turn a life of crime into a life of promise

Signing up to RAW requires a woman to relocate to                the necessary access to support services. There is also
the Waikato away from family, children and associates.           a considerable emphasis on skill building, fostering
Only pro-social contact is permitted.                            gratitude and contributing back to the community
                                                                 through volunteering.
2. Unrestricted access to drugs and alcohol.
                                                                 4. A disconnection, stigmatisation and rejection by
Signing up to RAW means staying clean. There is zero                mainstream society.
tolerance for any alcohol or drugs on the RAW premises
or using while in the RAW model.                                    RAW has worked hard to form relationships with
                                                                    employers, educators, landlords and social services to
3. Limited, if any, access to trusted and reliable guidance         minimise the impact that a criminal record typically
   and support around navigating the challenges of                  had on accessing essential services.
   living a legal lifestyle, goal setting, skill building, and
   employment opportunities.                                     Signing up to RAW means acknowledging these
                                                                 partnerships with the appropriate gratitude and
Signing up to RAW means working with Annah and                   commitment to ensure that door remained open for the
Rebecca on goal setting, career planning and getting             RAW women that would follow.
To find out more about
how RAW is changing
women’s lives visit
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