Rebuilding a Life
‘Some people worry that we care too much about offenders and not enough about their victims,’ says Glen Buckner, National Operations Manager for The Salvation Army’s Reintegration Services. ‘But helping to limit the number of victims by working with people to rebuild their lives and prevent re-offending is why we do what we do.’
Throughout New Zealand there are over 50 staff and volunteers working with around 600 new clients each year. ‘Our reintegration team does not judge or discriminate—everyone has a sincere and compassionate attitude towards those we serve. People who use our services need to feel safe and supported before they can even begin to believe they really can change,’ stresses Glen.
And change they do. Imprisoned for a decade for selling methamphetamine, Simon* had once been living the high life on the profits of drug sales. Police confiscated everything at the time of Simon’s arrest under the proceeds of crime act. But Simon’s losses went well beyond material things—he also left behind a wife and daughter when he was convicted and sent to prison.
While incarcerated Simon’s young daughter wrote to him explaining that he could not be part of her life if he continued offending. Simon was devasted by her strong words, but they became a powerful motivator towards change. However, Simon knew he could not do it alone—he would need help.
Glen emphasises that ‘we are not a jigsaw puzzle service that clients have to fit into to be able to receive our help. We provide a robust, case-by-case individualised approach. We partner with various other community groups and services because reintegration is about helping someone navigate their way back into what can be a vastly different society than what they left years ago.’
Upon his release from prison The Salvation Army’s Reintegration Services team began supporting Simon to rebuild his life and achieve his goal of seeing his daughter again. Over the next two years, a myriad of wraparound services contributed to Simon’s gradual progress including The Salvation Army’s Bridge Programme (Drug and Alcohol Services), Supportive Accommodation and Budgeting Services.
Building strong relationships made the real difference for Simon. Weekly visits enabled the reintegration team to challenge Simon’s behaviour and attitudes over time, resulting in a more positive outlook and proactive approach to his life choices. With the team’s support Simon completed two years of probation without re-offending and achieved his goal of seeing his daughter again. 15 years later Simon is not only gainfully employed but a company manager.
Simon’s success story wouldn’t be possible without the support of our donors. While Reintegration Services receive funding from the Department of Corrections, those who support The Salvation Army financially are contributing to the wraparound services that enable us to assist people like Simon successfully reintegrate into society without falling into re-offending. With a success rate of reducing re-offending for 12 months and more of up to 79% (figure provided by the Department of Corrections), investing in rebuilding lives is money well spent.
To help limit victims of crime by rebuilding lives like Simon’s and reducing re-offending through The Salvation Army’s Reintegration Services, please donate now.