A Christchurch family in need will have a new home and prisoners from Rolleston Prison have gained life-changing skills, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

The Minister visited the Rolleston Prison construction yard today where she saw the 50th house refurbished by prisoners for social housing.

The Yard Project is a partnership between Corrections and Housing New Zealand which provides community offenders and prisoners with qualifications and skills for employment. It also helps rejuvenate social housing stock and enables offenders to contribute to the rebuilding of Canterbury.

“It is a huge accomplishment for the men to have refurbished 50 houses, and an enormous boost to the wider community. It changes their lives and the lives of the people who move into these houses and make them into homes,” says Ms Upston.

Prisoners learn new skills and earn qualifications for employment on release while working in the yard. Trades taught include basic carpentry and joinery, plastering, painting, roof-fixing and insulation installation.

“Learning vital trade skills that are sorely needed in the community means these men leave prison as more employable people,” Ms Upston says.

“Supporting prisoners into stable employment is key to improving the lives of offenders, their families, whanau and the wider community.”

More than six years on from the first Canterbury quake, the need for refurbished housing is reducing and there are fewer houses to be sourced from the Red Zone. 

The prison is investigating other partnering options and construction opportunities in the building and fit-out of portable buildings.

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