May 31, 2024
December 2022

Christmas struggles.

Christmas is thought of by many as the most wonderful time of the year, but for those in prison or newly-released, it can be anything but.

Christmas is thought of by many as the most wonderful time of the year. But for those in prison or newly-released, it can be anything but.

Many people inside the wire, including the Tū Ora Pathway work with as part of our Navigate Initiative, struggle during the festive season for various reasons. Tū Ora means to stand in a place of wellness and is how we refer to those we work with.

Reintegration manager Anaru Baynes says Christmas is a “notoriously difficult time’’ for prisoners.

When you’re in prison it’s a time when your imagination runs away from you a little, with the good lives people are living without you on the outside and all the things you might be missing out on, but most of all the relationships and people in your life."

"It's never clearer that they’re not around and you’ve been removed from the ability to spend time with the people that you love and care about.’’

He says assaults can actually increase inside prison during Christmas, when negative emotions can boil over. In the Navigate Unit, things operate a little differently.

Careful care is taken to make sure our Tū Ora have a positive sense of social connection and purpose, given Pathway staff and volunteers do not see them for a short period.

Anaru says each Christmas, a leadership team of Tū Ora is formed and given resources in the form of activities or sporting equipment to encourage and engage the men in the unit. “It seems to make all the difference.”

“What we’ve seen is that we’ve empowered them to hold that unit space as their own and look after each other. Instead of it being a difficult and lonely time, we’ve come back to see how proud they are of how they’ve managed that responsibility.”

Ahead of Christmas, Tū Ora put a little bit of money aside from their budgets so they can buy items for a Christmas meal, or a treat for themselves.

The struggles for many prisoners at Christmas are also seen in the newly-released. Uncertainty, unsettling thoughts, previous lifestyle choices and a lack of a normal schedule can all play a part and leave people feeling “really lost”, Anaru says.

It’s times like this Pathway’s support really comes to the fore because everyone deserves a merry Christmas.

Names have been changed.

Learn more about our social enterprise Oak Tree Devanning

keep reading.

Check out more news from Pathway.

stay up to date.
subscribe to our newsletter.