For many, needles destroy lives. What if we could mend them?
More than half of the people in prison in Australia are inside because of crimes committed while influenced by drugs. This is a complex problem that impacts individuals, families and communities, and despite the significant resources dedicated to improving these statistics, little has changed.
We need to think differently about how we address these challenges.
Our society continues to evolve and so must our thinking about how to break the cycle. We need to innovate – to rethink how we approach these problems, and to look for new solutions.
At workRestart, we set about thinking how to challenge the notion of a needle. Could we turn a needle into something that mends a life, not destroys it?
Project reStitch is Australia’s first industrial sewing training program led a by a social enterprise on the inside. The program is designed to mend lives, using time on the inside for training and employment readiness to help prisoners find work and break the cycle on release.
We aim to make the model as real-world as possible, so prisoners have to apply to the program, undergo an interview process and commit to their role as they would for a job on the outside.
In addition to sewing, the team will also learn skills in inventory management, logistics and distribution.
We’re not talking about darning socks here. We work with industrial machines and heavy industrial fabrics – think shade cloth, marine sails or vehicle covers – training the team in techniques they’ll be able to utilise on the outside. Industrial machinists are in demand, and as manufacturing returns onshore, skills that were once old will be new again.
Importantly, the program also delivers training in soft skills such as teamwork, accountability, resilience and leadership.
A stitch in time, saves nine – or more
Over the course of a year, we hope to work with more than 100 prisoners, who take their new skills and positive mindset into their community, extending our impact on their release.
workRestart’s unique inside|outside employment model means we’ll be supporting them on the inside and on the outside, in an effort to see more than 75% of our cohort employed soon after release.
workRestart was fortunate to pitch Project reStitch at The Funding Network’s recent virtual crowdfunding event. Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of Australians committed to restarting lives and providing second chances, Project reStitch received $35,000 in funding to help kickstart the program in a Brisbane correctional centre (with the view to scaling the program to other prisons).
This funding will enable the fit out of a production area with industrial sewing machines and secure a skilled team of trainers to help manage the program and production.
Sewing for social impact
workRestart is seeking to partner with small-to-medium sized businesses who currently outsource production offshore and social enterprises who are looking to grow their business and extend their impact.
Project reStitch is perfect for businesses who are looking to “insource” for community good, returning to a partial or full local manufacturing model. If this is you, or you know someone who would be a good fit, we’d love to hear from you!
We look forward to showing you just what these needles can do.