Rimutaka Prison Story
On 26 June 2019, four Community Advisors from Community Operations' Wellington office visited Rimutaka Prison to see the projects that Julia Milne and Common Unity are doing with the inmates there. These projects include sewing pillows, pyjamas, and other items for low-income families – through this project, inmates are learning tactile skills and putting their creative juices to fantastic use.
The most well-known project being led by Common Unity is the beautiful fruit and vegetable gardens that are being maintained by the inmates. From seedling to harvest, inmates look after the produce that gets turned into meals and that are then delivered to communities in the Hutt Valley. A large number of these meals get delivered to their own kids attending primary schools in the Hutt – it's an incredible connection made between them and their whānau while they serve their time.
Over 7000 meals have been delivered so far. The gardens are vast and take an enormous amount of time and effort to maintain. They have become the pride and joy of many of the men that the Advisors spoke to. When these men are released they will be able to take these skills back into their communities.
It is important to acknowledge that this project began merely as an idea – it is through Julia Milne’s vision and action that it has grown into a huge collaborative enterprise that achieves deeply positive outcomes for the wellbeing of so many individuals and families.