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Annah Stretton campaigns to publish RAW book

Annah Stretton campaigns to publish RAW book

20 March 2018

Annah Stretton has kicked off a Pledge Me campaign to raise funds for a book that will shine a light on New Zealand women that the country has historically written off.

The well-known Kiwi fashion designer’s passion for social enterprise began in 2014 when she founded the charity Reclaim Another Woman (RAW), a social venture to work with recidivist female offenders to replace amplifying criminal activity with scholarship education and negotiated work.

RAW is fully endorsed and recognised by the Department of Corrections as a model that is successfully breaking a cycle of crime, drugs and violence. They do this by targeting the mothers and their children, giving them visibility, acceptance and a choice for a different way of life.

“At its very core, RAW is a story about restoring hope, self-belief and unleashing human potential. We want our book to become a beacon of hope for struggling women everywhere,” Stretton said.

“We want it to be something they can turn to and find the energy, inspiration and confidence to move forward, knowing that they too can have a life they love living.”

The goal is to raise $30,000 to fund the development, printing and distribution of the first RAW book. Stretton said the book will explore why we are unable to correct the growing culture of recidivist behaviour and the high rate of imprisonment in this country.

She says the New Zealand public has little understanding of what it is like to be born in to a life of crime, violence, drugs and alcohol which is seen as ‘normal’ to some as that’s what they’ve grown up around. The book will give insight into this and look at why they continue to be happy to exist in these spaces that are punctuated by prison stays.

It will also document the journey of the RAW woman as stakeholders and they will share their thoughts on what we as a country need to do to make a change. These stories are what New Zealand needs to hear, Stretton says.

Since its inception, the charity has helped 36 women throughout the country with their programme.

“There have been some incredible stories and this book will showcase 10 of those women and really show the journey and the life that has got them to the spaces and places that they are,” Stretton says.

As RAW enters its fourth year of rehabilitating and reintegrating these women back into society, Stretton and the team at RAW want to challenge the thoughts and perceptions of the wider community about recidivist offenders and provide a new frame on what it takes to achieve different outcomes for the community and for New Zealand.

“We want to give a voice to this group of women who have remained largely invisible to the wider community - how they get to a world largely defined by crime and violence and more importantly what they need to find their way out.”

She said RAW proves that recidivist female offenders are capable of permanently turning their back on an illegal lifestyle with the right combination of education, employment and intensive peer support.

“We’d love to have New Zealanders support us with what I know will be an awesome output for what has been an incredible journey over the last three years with RAW,” Stretton said.

In 2017, RAW was recognised for their continued success reintegrating previously incarcerated women into the community with the Not for Profit Award at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards.

Stretton’s work with the charity continues to be acknowledged and celebrated. In September 2015, she was awarded the EY ASB Social Entrepreneur of the Year and most recently received a Kiwibank Local Hero Award in November 2017. Stretton was also one of the top ten semi-finalists for the 2018 New Zealander of the Year.

The Pledge Me campaign for the RAW book closes at midnight on April 20, 2018. To make a donation visit www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/5582-raw-reclaim-another-woman and follow the book journey on RAW’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/reclaiminganotherwoman.

- ENDS -

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