Ka Awatea mentors have seen “massive shifts” in the young men who participated in the very first Ka Awatea programme this year.
The Department of Corrections launched the pilot programme in March, with seven offenders on community sentences attending the nine-week course.
The programme is aimed at men aged 18-24 and aims to deter burglars from re-offending. Our re-integrative programme runs for six months in a linked-up triangulated approach working alongside Corrections.
One of our mentors, Greg, said the programme started here at NKMP about 12-13 weeks ago and is based on the Te Whare Tapa Wha model.
“Our role is to walk alongside these young men on their journey and we are with them for six months delivering the holistic side of things.”
The mentors assist the men in anything they need support with such as doctors and dentists visits and basic needs such as getting groceries, he says.
Sharleen says “we’re preparing the participants to live independent lives without offending and to enter into the workforce or training. In order for them to achieve success they need a secure base. This means they need to address any issues that could hinder them from achieving their long-term goals.”
“We will enrol them in doctors’ services, support them with Work and Income appointments and obtaining their drivers licence, organize their benefits, support them in court proceedings, and provide food when needed. We also help them to establish routine in their lives and support them with preparing for job interviews,” she says.
Both of our mentors have seen “massive shifts” in the participants and it was great to see and support their graduation.
“For example, we had a man who was very shy, would hardly ever talk, always had his hoodie up, and now he’s a completely different person. He’s open, he’s talkative,” Greg says.
Greg credited his transformation to a mixture of the programme and the man getting his life back into balance.
Some of the participants were extremely emotional during the graduation, Greg says. “They would likely have never have expressed themselves in the way they did if there hadn’t been a shift in terms of their mind-set and dreams for a better future."
Greg and Sharleen are enjoying the new challenge.
“I was young once. I know what it’s like, and it’s extremely hard when you don’t have people around you offering support. It’s all about passing on my knowledge, connecting them to community supports, so they can move forward in a positive direction,” says Greg.
Sharleen said: “It’s a step in the right direction for offenders to be supported to make positive change. I have enjoyed walking alongside the participants and especially seeing them overcome challenges in their lives.”
The programme is continuing with another course recently started and a third course to commence in October 2018 in Otakou.