A Community Skills Bank member's perspective: Mark's story

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"They might not all become baristas and that’s okay, the outcome I personally wish for the Tu Ora is to develop the skill of simply learning. Learning how to learn - not only for their personal growth but also to show future employers their ability and eagerness to progress. This is why I think my work with the Tu Ora contributes to engaging in a skill-set that is really relevant for their reintegration."                     - Mark, CSB member

“With respect to work, my main objective is to have balance between the tasks I have to do to pay the bills, the work I’m passionate about, and the things I can do to help the world around me. When the opportunity arose to volunteer for the Navigate Initiative through passing on my knowledge and skills to the participants, it sounded like an ideal blend of all these facets. I just had to do it."

"I’ve been running a professional barista training course as part of the Community Skills Bank inside the prison. So far, this has included a training session with four Tu Ora, teaching them how to make the perfect coffee. In the following five sessions the participating Tu Ora have made and sold flat whites, cappuccinos and lattes to the prison staff with the mobile coffee cart we brought into the unit. We sold about 30 cups each time (the revenue generated was used to cover the cost) and received some very happy smiles in return.

Hospitality, and in this regard the art of crafting coffee, is all about serving a higher purpose. It is about making someone else feel at home somewhere they’re not. It is about achieving a sense of awareness for making someone else happy. They might not all become baristas and that’s okay, the outcome I personally wish for the Tu Ora is to develop the skill of simply learning. Learning how to learn - not only for their personal growth but also to show future employers their ability and eagerness to progress. This is why I think my work with the Tu Ora contributes to engaging in a skill-set that is really relevant for their reintegration.

If you ask me why I think the Community Skills Bank is a success, my answer would be demonstrated by a letter I received from one of the Tu Ora. Inside, he thanks me for the inspiration and tells me he would like to become a professional barista. This letter is my personal reward, I’m so proud of him. I will try to catch up with him again, maybe even become a Pathway mentor to him and see if I can help him out with a job, once he is released.

In my opinion, the Navigate Initiative bridges the gap between the Tu Ora and the community. Metaphorically speaking, the NI acts as an impartial party, comparable to a teacher, to release tension between the parents and their children, the former being Department of Corrections and the latter our men behind the wire. The NI plays the role of a neutral entity that is able to reconnect the estranged Tu Ora with their home, the community of Christchurch. 

I find the practical approach Pathway is using very refreshing. The reintegration sector is certainly a challenging area but the positive outcomes make a difference for society. Working and connecting with these guys makes you wonder how different your own life could have been under different circumstances. Once you put yourself into the Tu Ora’s shoes you’ll realise just how meaningful, viable and valuable this work is.”

- Mark Chirnside, Co-owner of Crafted Coffee Company
and Community Skills Bank (NI) member

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