“Honestly, when I first heard about the Navigate Initiative I thought it’d be crap. I’ve been in prison for so many years, you could classify me as a bit of a professional when it comes to courses and programmes. My psychologist recommended participating in the Navigate Initiative, but I was about to withdraw. Then I talked to Carey and Francis. They changed my mind and I’m grateful they did.”
"I was released in March 2019. During the six months, I had spent in the Navigate Initiative I participated in almost every class they offered which were great. However, I think the best thing about the Initiative is it goes beyond prison. The team doesn’t drop you when it matters the most: the second you leave prison. When you first enter the Initiative the Tu Ora Navigators are teachers, they’re in charge, and when you leave they have become your friends. Some days Anaru comes to the accommodation which Pathway helped me get and we play a game of chess and catch up. I know I can call on them for help at any time. Especially at those moments which used to get me into trouble in the first place.
I’m a straight shooter, so let me tell you honestly: if you’re not ready to change, the NI isn’t for you. The Pathway team are not here to make this choice for you. But once you’ve made it, they’re there all the way. I personally decided to change long before I got to know Pathway’s work.
Interestingly enough, retirement from my club life was always a given for me and my partner once we got older. We used to sneak off from the pack to go to a theatre or listen to poetry, places we knew we wouldn’t meet anyone we knew. Being part of a club, you always have responsibilities and rules. You’re expected to look down at people who aren’t part of your group, they are ‘nobodies’.
What surprised me about the NI was the fact that there were people from the community coming inside the wire, voluntarily spending time with us. They weren’t preaching to us to do better, they were genuine and they shared their skills and experience. Constantly meeting these ‘nobodies’ slowly changes your perspective. I’ve come to realise that not everyone outside of my former club is unworthy. On the contrary, being outside the wire I am now a ‘nobody’: I’m a ghost to the club and invisible to them. There are no more club rules and responsibilities, I can live my life however I want to and it is the best feeling, it’s pure freedom.
Where to now? I want to spend all the time I have left with my kids and my partner. My family is the most important thing in my life, I am so proud of them. One of my daughters wants to get into forensic studies and the other one wants to become a police officer. All I want is to be there for them and move back home.”
- Deakon*, Tu Ora
*name has been changed