Prison Fellowship moves on from faith-based unit

The Faith Based Unit (FBU) at Rimutaka Prison will close in November and Prison Fellowship NZ will celebrate its work at the prison with events over the weekend of November 24th and 25th.

Changed focus

Although the Prison Fellowship knows they have made a difference in the lives of many men, they have been unable to prove this satisfactorily to the Department of Corrections.

The Prison Fellowship continues to support the Department’s work to reduce recidivism, using the interest and skills of their mainly Christian communities.

They want to work across the entire prison system so more volunteers and churches get the opportunity to help transform lives

They are looking for a place in the correctional system that fits both Christian communities’ needs and Ÿthe Department’s. At the moment that seems to be in the self-care units in 10 prisons.

They are exploring with Corrections ways of using the experience gained from the 9 years in the FBU to identify new opportunities.

They are keen to make the self-care units a “village” which prepares men and women well for their Ÿeventual release.

They will continue support for men and women in the community through the Community Throughcare schemes, including

  • Target Communities,
  • halfway houses,
  • assisted accommodation, etc

so that they can remain crime free.

They have done this after a great deal of prayer and discussions.

Continuing care

They are working with the Prison Chaplaincy Service of Aotearoa to ensure that the spiritual needs of the men they have been caring in Unit 7 at Rimutaka continue to be met, and will be walking alongside those for whom they have already started making transition plans for as they leave prison.

Further information is available in a special issue of the Prison Fellowship Newsletter

Faith based unit: negotiations continuing

Thank God for His Angels!

Prison Fellowship New Zealand would like to thanks the many people who have prayed, written letters and lobbied for the continuance of the faith based unit at Rimutaka Prison.

At present PFNZ believes that the following represents the position we are in:

“PFNZ and the Department of Corrections are continuing towards the mutual development of a comprehensive rehabilitation programme within the faith based throughcare scheme at Rimutaka Prison, subject to normal contractual negotiations, that will meet both organisations’ goals of reducing reoffending and helping people live offence free lives”.

There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge and many months of hard work to come that will be taxing for the staff as they also go about the business of maintaining the work of the unit, before final negotaitions come about.

A lot more prayer and gifts to support this development are needed to meet this aspirational goal. You can read more about the unit in the Winter Newsletter of PFNZ.

Target programme gets underway

Last year, the Vestry agreed to parish participation in the Target Community Programme, an initiative of the Prison Fellowship.

“A Target Community is one that is a prepared community with the heart to minister to both those in prison and those being released from prison. This involves incorporating their families into the community with a view to both providing support and protection during their growth and with the goal of restoring them into full wider community participation.”

The Target Communities Project enables church and wider communities to be trained to accept, coach, encourage and hold accountable released prisoners. This includes supporting their families in a safe and sustainable way and bringing them all into fruitful community interaction.

Each released man or woman will gain a “circle of support” from within a trained community who will work with them to make the adjustments necessary to gain a meaningful life.

Several parishioners are already involved in Prison Ministry, through Unit Seven of the Faith Unit in Rimutaka Prison.

We are looking to provide accommodation for one inmate on his release in July.

Training and resources will be provided to those involved.

Faith-based prison

Man looking at cross

The 60-bed faith unit at Rimutaka Prison opened in 2003 and is a partnership between the Department of Corrections and Prison Fellowship New Zealand.

The unit provides an opportunity for inmates to explore the Christian faith, and to surround themselves with Christian support on release.

 

Three men sitting in prison yard

The interdenominational programme was developed with representatives of the mainstream Christian denominations and the spiritual transformation focuses on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Trained Christian mentors work on a one to-one basis with the prisoners eight months before they leave the prison, and for up to two years after they are released.

The mentors are supported by their church, which undertakes to provide the offender and their family with moral and spiritual support after release.

This approach empowers offenders and volunteers alike to take responsibility for restoring personal, family and community relationships.

 

Te Ara Pono (Prison Cursillo)

Te Ara Pono (TAP) is a specially-designed prison Cursillo, based around an intensive four-day in-prison course, which is itself based on the normal Cursillo Three Days programme.

Cursillistas with a calling to prison ministry run the course in the Faith Unit each November.

Two Cursillistas within the St Matthew’s 10 am congregation are involved with this initiative.

(Te Ara Pono means the Way of Faith)

Target Programme

Our Vestry is currently considering the Target Programme, which gives parishes the resources they need to accept, coach, encourage and hold accountable released prisoners and assist their families.  This is a big step for the parish and it will discussed in full during the Vestry Planning Day, on 16 October.

Parishioners can be involved directly by supporting and assisting released prisoners and their families, or indirectly by providing clothing, food and household items, and by supporting those who are directly involved with prayer.

Further reading

If you have any questions, or are interested in becoming involved, ask Vicar Steve Kimberley, who also has videos and other information.