On the 8th of October 2018, the Navigate Initiative - Reintegrative Community Unit (NI) opened its doors for the first time along with its first twelve participants (Tu Ora). Since then a lot has been going on and the forming and storming phases of group development have begun!
The original twelve Tu Ora who moved into the unit have already increased to seventeen in the first month, and this will continue to grow up to twenty by Christmas. Pathway now has two full time staff members, Tu Ora Navigators, working in the Unit supported by a bolstered social work team back in the office. From January 2019 onwards, the programme will be looking at its first releases from the unit into the community with the support of Pathway’s existing post-release reintegration services.
“Magical is not the right word but it felt something like that.” says Carey Ewing, Pathway Reintegration Manager. “We’ve been working towards this for a long time now and it was a special moment to go out to the prison on day one, be a part of the opening blessing and see it all come together.”
The men live in five units, where one ‘house’ consists of four individual bedrooms, a shared kitchen and a laundry room. The participating Tu Ora have the highest level of trust that can be given in prison and the motivation to participate in the NI to better prepare for release has been encouraging.
Every week in the unit, various classes and groups take place; they include everything from cooking classes, budgeting and fitness programs, to drug and alcohol support groups. These weekly courses are run by community-based partner NGOs, and participants can pick and choose which ones to attend. The Community Skills Bank is also gearing up to send volunteers in to teach various skills, including a writing and music classes, a book club, and many more.
Twice a week the Tu Ora and Tu Ora Navigators come together for a community meeting to discuss opportunities, ideas, challenges and to acknowledge the success of current projects or individuals. Besides these meetings there are private, weekly, one-on-one sessions with each Tu Ora, where personal obstacles and growth are discussed.
An official opening of the unit is proposed for early 2019 with interest from the Minister of Corrections. “We are so thankful to all the many financial supporters and those who are volunteering through the Community Skills Bank, along with the incredible support from our partners - The Department of Corrections.” - Carey.