Helping with smooth transitions for prisoners and families
For many people leaving prison, the excitement of getting out is tempered with a fear of being unable to move on with their lives. Many are stigmatised by society or don’t have the support systems in place to help them move past the mistakes they made when they were young. For Hamilton resident Hine*, help from PARS Inc was the key to enabling her to build a new life post-prison.
Hine, like many prisoners, was incarcerated while still very young. She was found guilty of being an accomplice to a high profile crime that changed her life and threw her in the spotlight. After 12 years in prison, she says she was "very excited to get on with life" but knew that the world had changed considerably since she was put away. After the homes of all of her family members were denied by her parole officer as possible places to live, she turned to PARS, who brought her into their supported accommodation scheme. "I ran out of options and PARS came to the rescue," says Hine.
Hine was lucky. With a full time job ready for her as she left prison, she was keen to make the most of her freedom. Without PARS however, she would have been left with nowhere to live while she made the transition back into the real world. "Life would be very different without PARS - I didn't have a home when I left prison. PARS helped me reconnect with my family, and mentored me in terms of joining the community again."
A real challenge for Hine was how much the world had changed in her time behind bars, a challenge common to many long-term inmates leaving prison. "I spent a long time institutionalised, and the world had changed. Internet was still quite new when I went into prison, and now it's the way to find a house, a job, everything. I didn't know who to talk to." PARS, she says, were incredibly mindful of this and helped her understand what she would need to do to create a new life for herself. "They helped me take baby steps and always made sure that I was okay," says Hine.
After being involved in such a high profile case, Hine was understandably worried about being able to have a fresh start, which led to her moving to Hamilton from Auckland. She got into uni and began studying a Bachelor in Tourism, majoring in Hospitality Management - something she says she has always been passionate about. She is full of praise for the organisation that helped her get to this point, and says "I wouldn't be getting on with my life without PARS."
Hine now hopes other people will discover PARS, saying that both prisoners and families of prisoners need to be aware of this service. Says Hine, "PARS isn't just for inmates, but also for families. Families are victims of the mistakes that we make; our actions affect them too. PARS would help reduce stress and anxieties for families if they knew about it."
*Name has been changed for privacy reasons