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Prisoners' handiwork brings benefits

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

It may be house building on a small scale, but the production of four timber playhouses has had big benefits across the Manawatu community.

The A-frame gothic styled playhouses were built by prisoners of Manawatu Prison under the supervision of UCOL tutors on a Short Course in Construction and have been distributed for fundraising ventures to the Rewanui Kindergarten and Feilding Lions Club.

One of the playhouses was delivered to the winner of the Rewanui Kindergarten raffle last week. Helen Allen says her grandchildren are delighted with her win and she is impressed with the handiwork of the builders. "The more positive skills the prisoners can learn the better, for when they get back out in the community."

The Level 3 UCOL short course was introduced as a follow on from the Building Construction and Allied Trades Skills (BCATS) programme that has been running at the prison since 2009.

BCATS is a Level 2 programme and is regarded as an introduction to joinery and construction. Four, ten week courses are run each year, with a limited number of prisoners accepted for each intake.

Among their other carpentry projects this year’s 14 BCATS students built garden chairs. They recently donated six of them to Palmerston North’s Cancer Society Oznam House.

UCOL’s Construction Lecturer at the prison Allan Muir says the courses are valuable for prisoners who are about to be released because it familiarises them with a daily work routine and provides an incentive for future job seeking and as a possible pathway towards apprenticeship.

The initiative is funded by the Government through the Tertiary Education Commission, and supported by the Department of Corrections.

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