Earlier this year, Pathway staff were treated to an incredible presentation from one of our
valuable volunteers, Jane Jones.
Jane has been volunteering with us for about five years, more specifically with our writers group. She spoke about why she decided to become a volunteer and how the writers group has not only changed many Tū Ora’s outlook on life, but also her own.
With a background in veterinary science, outdoor pursuits and a love for writing poetry, Jane was initially taken aback when asked by former Pathway Reintegration Manager Carey Ewing – while at her local church – about becoming involved and by her own admission wasn’t quite sure what she could offer. “I thought, what the heck could I do for a men’s prison?” As it turned out, the answer is plenty.
She said simply being there and taking a genuine interest in the men has gone a long way and counted for a lot. Jane found writing to be a kind of therapy, which Tū Ora have embraced as part of their rehabilitation and eventual journey back into the community.
It enables them to express themselves in various ways through the written word, without feeling embarrassed or anxious about revealing their true feelings.
Jane said often the most inspiring pieces of work came deep from within, especially when Tū Ora opened up to share words related to past experiences or trauma. While at times humour could be used to articulate feelings, fear was another. Interestingly, a mix of both also comes across.
“When you write something that’s come from your head or space, it’s really a reflection of you. It’s very cool. The Tū Ora come out with stuff that’s amusing. I love the fact you never know what someone is going to come out with.
“I was doing this whole session on fear. This gang member wrote about Peter Rabbit, who had his burrow in the gang pad and is really scared of the gang members; so he was channeling his fear through a rabbit.
"They gift you stories or images you can’t ever forget."
With delving deep into one’s self through something new, such as creative writing and poetry, came risk. That could be overcome by writing what she called ‘found poetry’. It involved everyone picking a word and keeping it to themselves before each was revealed. The men then had to write a poem that contained all of the words, which Jane said resulted in some fascinating poems which all read differently. “They’d have never done something like that before. It’s real risk-taking.”
In terms of her own outlook, Jane has learned not to take anyone at face-value. “It helps reduce barriers between me and another group in society. I feel more confident approaching people and chatting to them. It helps break down those barriers of race, gender and demographics.”
It’s dedicated volunteers like Jane that can make all the difference to the lives of the Tū Ora we work with. Thank you for all of the work you do to inspire Tū Ora to go on to do great things!