Thinking outside the box is a popular phrase that has long been used to reference thinking in a unique or creative way. Two of Pathway’s recent initiatives demonstrate thinking outside the box both figuratively and literally - supporting people to make a fresh start through clever and imaginative ways from inside a shipping container!
A core focus for the organisation is its work in the prison reintegration space. This involves journeying alongside those who have been incarcerated, supporting them as they re-enter the community and breaking down the barriers that might hinder their success at rebuilding their lives, Pathway Support Services Coordinator Renee Jones says.
“The result is often miraculous and we get to witness those who have been unable to break away from cycles of crime, addiction and unemployment, getting well, gaining financial independence and creating the kind of life that everyone deserves. Ultimately, the success of this work makes the community a safer place for everyone.”
One of the most simple - yet powerful - entry points to rebuilding their lives is access to transport for appointments and social events. Five years ago, the team initiated the Pathway Bike Project. “As part of this initiative, we would take old, unwanted bikes destined for the scrap heap and train young men in the youth unit of Christchurch Men’s Prison to restore them,” Renee explains.
On average 50 bikes a year are then returned to the community to be given to someone newly released from prison or drug and alcohol rehab, further supporting their new journey by creating another level of independence.
Two years ago the Bike Project was fortunate enough to receive the incredible donation of a brand new 20ft container from Royal Wolf, which could house the bikes before and after their refurbishment.
More recently the container has been refitted to also accommodate the new Pathway Clothing Project. Pathway has partnered with second hand clothing outlets in order to make clothing available to those who only have the bare minimum, including men who have journeyed through the Navigate Initiative and are rebuilding their lives on the outside.
In a real united effort, a volunteer kitchen designer teamed up with some volunteer builders to kit-out the container with shelving, hanging rails and tables for the Clothing Project volunteers to work from. In the last 12 months, 49 clothing packs have been given away, including three packs of baby clothes for expecting mums.
“We had everything else; the cot, the pram and all the big stuff, but we hadn’t started buying clothes and the baby came early,” one mum stated of the support she received from the Clothing Project. “It was panic stations, so we reached out to Pathway and they really came through for us.”
“Having the Royal Wolf container to house all of these precious items means that when the people we support need help the most, we can be there for them straight away with everything we need already on site, ready to make a difference,” Renee says.