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​Inmates’ woolly donations warming community hearts 

Published date: Friday 24 May 2019 

[PDF version of this media release]

Grafton Correctional Centre staff and inmates are putting smiles on the faces of pre-schoolers, aged-care residents and those in need by presenting them with hundreds of hand-made animals, crocheted bears and blankets. 

The inmates at Grafton’s minimum-security June Baker Centre spend around 15 hours each week cutting, sewing and crocheting gifts to be distributed through community partnerships with Corrective Services NSW. 

Governor Michelle Paynter said Gummyaney Aboriginal Preschool, Grafton Aged Care and Riverside Care were recent recipients of the hand-made goods. 

“In the two years this fantastic initiative has been running, we’ve been able to donate crocheted blankets, beanies, scarves and pillows to cancer patients, aged care residents and now local pre-schoolers,” Ms Paynter said. Image of inmate sewing a toy

“It’s impressive how enthusiastically these inmates have embraced this program, learned new skills and worked hard to ensure that the program continues to make these valuable donations.” 

Around 200 items have been donated to community partners already this year, including hand-crocheted bunnies, patchwork teddies and owls, library bags and blankets. 

The program was established in 2017 by a former Grafton officer who wanted to honour her late grandmother’s memory by donating crocheted blankets to a local aged care facility. 

Since then inmates have learned to cut patterns out of fabric, sew and stuff a variety of emotional support bears for young kids. 

“These inmates are not only learning new skills and using their time productively, they’re getting a real kick out of helping the community and receiving thanks from people who receive these donations,” Ms Paynter said. 

“Building the inmates’ self-esteems, skills, confidence and connection to the community are all vital stepping stones to reducing the risk of reoffending.” 

Anyone wishing to make wool donations can leave them at the Grafton Correctional Centre administration building, 170 Hoof Street or contact the centre on 6642 0301 to arrange an alternative drop-off point.