Ambitious ex-prisoner hopes people will give him a chance (and a job) to reach his goals

Ambitious ex-prisoner

Writing books about family history and heritage buildings in Auckland isn’t what you would usually expect from an ex-prisoner, yet since Trevor* left prison in 2012, he has been busy flexing his writing muscles, with support and encouragement from PARS Inc. (formerly known as Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation Society of Auckland District Inc.).

Trevor's journey with PARS begins when he left prison in 2012 after spending six years behind bars. He was dropped off at Christchurch airport with a plane ticket to Auckland and a few boxes of belongings, and was left to fend for himself. Luckily for Trevor, two PARS team members were waiting for him at the other end. "They said they didn't recognise me because I was wearing a suit - it was the boxes that gave me away," says Trevor.

Trevor spent three months in PARS' supported accommodation, and has since has help from PARS in finding his own accommodation. He continues to visit PARS to get help working on his CV and finding a job. PARS has encouraged him to set personal and professional goals, and he's certainly not short on either.

Trevor, who met his partner after leaving prison, has a dream of owning his own property on which he can be self-sufficient and help feed others who may be struggling or in trouble. Currently doing unpaid work in deliveries, he hopes to get back into paid work, having worked for a courier as second in charge at a courier depot prior to being sent to prison.

With such an ambitious goal in mind, he wants to start saving as soon as he can, and has already signed up to Kiwisaver. In his spare time, he is hard at work on his family history, carrying on the work his mum started in the 1980s and looking into the family tree all the way back to 1563. Although this book will only be published for family and interested organisations, he is also working on a book about Auckland heritage buildings with a photographer friend.

The relationship between PARS and Trevor is a long lasting one, due to parole restrictions that require him to be supervised while using the internet. This has meant that he has had much longer than the typical 6 months that prisoners spend being supported by PARS to get to know the PARS team. They are still helping him try to reach his goal of gaining paid employment - all it will take Is someone giving him a chance.

After initially being scared upon entering prison, Trevor came to feel more comfortable as he got into a rhythm, working in the tailor shop, on a farm, and in forestry while serving his time. Although excited to leave, he said he was also quite fearful about what leaving prison would bring, and struggled with getting his people skills back.

When asked to describe what a difference PARS has made in his life, Trevor says he "can't think of the words to describe what PARS have done. Without PARS I would have been back inside - I felt like that was where I would be safer," says Trevor. He says the stigma that is attached to prisoners as they come out is the hardest part. "You get these labels - you're a criminal and not worthy of anything. I understand why people feel that way, but I just want people to let me prove myself." 

*Name changed for privacy reasons