Media Release: Mentoring helps ex-prisoner reintegrate and make the most of life
Few people consider the challenges that people face when they emerge from prison. Luckily, PARS Inc. (formerly known as Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation Society of Auckland District Inc.), as well as some fantastic mentors, are on hand to help prisoners adjust to life in the ‘real world’.
Based in Mt Eden, PARS facilitates a mentoring programme in
which people who have come out of long stints in prison are paired
with a helpful and selfless citizen who can support them to get
their life back on track.
Glendene resident, Murray Young and his mentee, Hare* are one
such pair. Murray is a former member of the NZ Fire Service
Commission and an ex-Queen's bailiff with the Ministry of Justice
who has also worked in real estate, all of which have given him a
vast range of skills and excellent knowledge when it comes to
people and their body language.
Hare spent several years in prison and, earlier this year, was
released back into society without the required skills to cope with
the changes his sentence had made to his life. That's where Murray
came in… Tasks as simple as catching a bus, using an eftpos card or
navigating a computer were difficult for Hare when he came out of
prison, at least in part because these activities used fairly new
technologies. Murray's role was to teach him the skills he needed
to take on these tasks, and equip him with the confidence to
function in society.
On release, many prisoners face isolation, stigma, restrictions
and barriers to the community. "I didn't want to be released," says
Hare. "I was afraid of being scared, lonely, depressed and I had
plans of going back inside - it was more comfortable, there were
things to do and people always around." For many, this is a more
appealing prospect than being alone and ostracised in society.
Having PARS' support and a mentor helps them to stay out of
prison, demonstrating that there is life after prison, and that
reoffending is not the only choice. As well as providing his
mentor, PARS assisted Hare through their Supported Accommodation
service, with approved accommodation and advocacy with Work and
Income, before moving on to his own residence.
Although these basic physiological needs were important, Murray
has also had a huge impact on Hare's life - helping him to seek
employment, working on his interview skills, teaching him to cook,
and even helping him in trying to mend his relationship with his
children's mother. "The best advice he's given me is to stay calm,
be relaxed, love life, and take things one step at a time," says
The aim, for Murray, is to show Hare a normal way of life so
that he can continue to reintegrate back into society - and most
importantly, stay out of prison. "If I can contribute to keeping
someone out of jail, I've done my job," says Murray. When asked
what is the most important trait for a mentor to have, Murray
replied: "An open mind. There's good in everybody, you just have to
Mentoring with PARS hasn't been a one way street either, as
Murrays says: "I've found it very, very rewarding. I'm contributing
to a person's life that has been taken away from him because of his
mistakes. My job is to prevent him from making more mistakes."
For Hare, PARS and Murray have been, and still are, instrumental
in keeping him positive and focused. "When I have problems, I tell
PARS and they get me back on track," he says.
Tui Ah Loo, Executive Director of PARS, explains, "all people
benefit if we mentor people coming out and help them stay out of
prison. The person re-entering society, the mentor, and the
community - all are better off because of this programme."
Become a mentor with PARS to positively transform the lives of
ex-prisoners and make a real difference in the community. Email
Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org or
call 09 947 6185 to begin changing lives today.
*Name has been changed for privacy reasons
Christina Wedgwood, Intelligent Ink
09 629 4213 or 027 631 1071