On Thursday 6th December the BWN held their annual Christmas Celebration Lunch at Mills Reef supporting the RAW foundation – Annah Stretton’s new charitable social venture. RAW (“Reclaim Another Woman”) works with recidivist female offenders to provide education and work opportunities. Annah and her sister Rebecca established RAW to drive real social change and choice for socially disadvantaged women. The key thing Anna said she has learnt about working with these women, is we need to understand the demographic they are in. Applying our sense of “normal’ to get them to change won’t work, instead we have to understand the “normal” in their demographic and work with changing that.
The RAW programme starts working with women when they are in prison and then offers housing, education and employment opportunities in the Waikato once they are released, to enable them to create new futures for themselves. The Raw Foundation target mothers to help them break the cycle of reoffending and the multiplier effect. The focus is on getting the women right in themselves before they are reunited with their families again so they can fulfil the role of a high function parent.
Following Annah, Kylie and Charlotte, both participants in the RAW programme, spoke of their backgrounds and experiences.
Charlotte was in her final year at school, planning to go to AUT when she was first introduced to drugs at a party. For the next ten years she lived life as a drug addict and criminal. Now with the support she has experienced through being in the RAW programme, she is studying Environmental Law at Waikato University and has been offered an international scholarship in year 4 by the Vice Chancellor for the high standard of her work.
Kylie had a dysfunctional upbringing and began a journey of drugs and alcohol addiction from 12 years old. When she was in prison and heard about the RAW programme, she was so keen to be part of it that she begged her parole officer for a longer stay in prison so that she could be eligible. With the support of RAW she has been studying at Wintec and next year she will be starting a building apprenticeship in a construction company.
The stories from all the women were all very moving, and it was wonderful to hear about the transformation in lives RAW is achieving. It was great to be able to present the RAW Foundation with a donation of $750 at the end of the event to support the work they are doing.