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Prisoners sew new life into old fabrics

Corrections Officer, Paul, with some of the door draught-stoppers made from donated materials by men

Fabrics of all descriptions are being recycled at Rimutaka Prison to make locals warmer, drier and cosier.

Senior Corrections Officer, Sonyia, says the men are proud they can give something back.

Their work includes door draught-stoppers (pictured above), beanies, mittens, sunhats and duvets.

Many of the items are distributed by the Hutt Valley District Health Board or given to Hutt Valley and Wairarapa schools.

A team of men and their sewing machines spend up to six days a week sewing for the community.

The fabrics they use are donated or bought at a low cost.

So far more than 2,500 door draught-stoppers have been made.

The men use donated fabrics for the single and double door draught-stoppers, which are filled with scraps of fabric, polo fleece and duvet inners.

Organisations that receive them can distribute them to families or sell them to raise funds.

Particularly colourful are the extra-large cushions made from onesies, many donated by Save Mart in Upper Hutt.

These cushions donated to schools are made from onesies

Schools use them for their reading corners, music rooms and libraries.

The men also make beanies and mittens for local children.

One of the men has become an expert in cutting and sewing hats so local children can confidently play in the sun.

The cream and khaki fabric was originally bought for the old-style prison staff uniforms.

He enjoys trying to do the best he can and gets better with each hat. Given the opportunity, he’d relish tackling something more complicated.

Schools love the hats and the fact they can get all their children playing outside,” says Sonyia.

Sunhats for children of all ages are made from surplus material from the old-style prison staff uniforms

One of the men says sewing gives him something to do and he enjoys the work.

Another popular item is a waterproof apron for children to use in water play or painting. There is also a school gardening jacket.

The men also make duvets for distribution by the local health board.

Ann, a principal corrections officer, came up with the concept for a ‘mud station’ made from recycled pallets. The concept is evolving and the units will be donated to schools.

The men recycled pallets to make this children’s ‘mud station’, pictured with Corrections Officer, Paul

Another project has been making colourful wall hangings for a unit that is home to a group of older men with high-dependency health needs.

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