16 Aug 2018

Wellington cafe offering inmates jobs as baristas

From Checkpoint, 5:52 pm on 16 August 2018

Wellington cafes seem a dime a dozen, but when the Trade School Kitchen officially opens in Naenae next week it will offer prisoners a chance at employment and reintegration.

The baristas at the cafe will be former inmates who have completed an eight week training course from inside Arohata women's prison.

The cafe is the brainchild of Lauren Tennent, who also oversaw the training in Arohata women's prison just across the state highway in Tawa.

"They are so excited," she says.

"As soon as they hear about it their eyes light up and they're like 'what? I can actually get employment?', because it's so rare.

"There aren't many opportunities out there so when you just openly say that there is they are quite taken aback.

"Especially for women, there's a lot of opportunity out there for men's prisons and there really isn't for women, we're the only trade in there.

Two inmates are expected to start work at the cafe in October, pending parole board hearings.

They're guaranteed a year of employment aimed at reintegrating them into the community and eventually finding a job elsewhere.

Sergeant Stephen Cross, of Naenae's neighbourhood policing team, was enjoying a coffee at the cafe and says everyone he's spoken to about it thinks it's a great idea.

"A lot of the time, ex-prisoners are thrust out into the community without too much help but I think this is a good way to get them those skills where they can actually move on and look for other work."

The barista course has support from other local hospitality businesses offering to employ its graduates.

The Trade School Kitchen will officially open in Naenae on Monday.