Paremoremo prisoners learn life skills fixing up bikes for the community
Auckland prisoners are pedaling to a better future through a bicycle repair programme.
Over the last six months, prisoners at Paremoremo Auckland Prison have been recycling and upcycling bikes to give back to the community.
The second-hand bicycles are delivered to the recycling workshop at Paremoremo by the Auckland Community Recycling Network which picks them up through inorganic collections.
One prisoner, who has been involved with the workshop since it started, said the thought of going down to the workshop gets him up in the morning.
He has a friendly face, speaks softly but his eyes instantly light up when he starts talking about bikes.
"Getting out of the unit and coming out here, I know working on the bikes heals me in everyday situations. If I can fix bikes, I can fix myself," he said.
He had not fixed a bike since he was a child and only knew how to change a tyre but since attending the workshop he's changing wheels, handle bars, brakes and shocks.
"I don't mind getting my hands dirty and also you get better and better at it," he said.
The Principal Advisor for rehabilitation and learning, David said the project gave prisoners vital skills.
"One of the things we are trying to do in the department is get guys back into stable employment on their release.
"The prisoners come here by choice and they develop the habits that will help them get back into the community," David said.
His team then aids the prisoners in finding employment once released.
"Research has showed us that stable, meaningful employment reduces reoffending by 35 per cent.
"It also gives them some meaning in their life and they don't want to come back, they want to make a difference in their lives.
David said the workshop equips the prisoners with health and safety skills, light engineering and mechanical skills and gives them a taste of work.
"Some of the guys haven't had any structure in their lives," he said.
The project forms part of a number of training and employment programmes at the prison aimed at reducing reoffending.
For the prisoner, going down to the workshop every day gives him meaning.
"It keeps me busy and I just want to turn up to work.
"It sort of fills the inside of me, I want to be needed and to give something back."
His favourite bikes to work on are mountain bikes and he hopes to buy one once he's released because it was good for the body and soul, he said.
"It's a good feeling, you feel the wind on your face and it motivates you to do it again and again."
He hopes to find a job in a bike shop once he's released.
Tomorrow, David will deliver 10 bikes to PARS in Mt Eden, an organisation assisting prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families.
Source: Fairfax Media
Reporter: Catrin Owen
Staff: Tui Gallagher
Client: not identified