“My father used to work in a bank back in the day, but when they asked him to move to Australia, he resigned. With no job, he started to enjoy all the free time in his garden; growing carrots and cabbages.
My mother was not at all impressed and she soon told him to get a job. So he walked down the road into the Corrections Department and got hired as a clerk the very next day. Unfortunately, this no longer gave him enough time for all his veggies, so he asked me to help him out. I was a teenage boy at the time and frankly, I wasn’t keen.
But when Dad heard rumours about a new Women’s Prison opening nearby, he got an idea which ultimately led me to the point I am at today: He visited the Women’s Prison, talked to the officers there and together they negotiated a way to have some women train and help in his vegetable garden. From that day on, we would have a group of women from prison come over to our house during lunchtime to take care of our vegetables. It was a beneficial initiative for everyone involved.
So, if you ask me where my motivation came from to do what I do today, this is it. I grew up in an environment that taught me to help others out. It’s made a huge difference in my life.
I now own a devanning company, Maxwell Devanning Limited, which started out small around 20 years ago. Over time, the industry has changed and the workload has gone from devanning 7 containers a week, up to 97 containers. At peak times, there began to be staff shortages and I thought back to my father and how he handled things with his carrots and cabbages. I decided to take a page out of his book and I started hiring guys from Christchurch Men’s Prison in cooperation with the Corrections Department. Back then, the men would come to work during the day and then go back to prison overnight.
I got involved with Pathway in 2015, and I now work with Chrissie (Pathway Supported Employment Coordinator). We developed a relationship where I would get help by employing workers from Pathway, and the Pathway clients wouldn’t be judged for their past when they worked for me. Eventually they’d get a good work reference from me if they’d done a good job and hopefully this helps them to move on with their lives after prison. Every now and then I get a phone call from a previous employee, where they thank me and tell me about their work success.
Often all they need is a wee bit of direction and someone to believe in them; to give them strength and hope. Once they have a job, you can literally see them grow in confidence. That’s something I’ll never get tired of seeing. I’ve learned a lot from these men over the years and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
- Rob, Employer of Pathway Clients