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Cessnock inmates happy to help flood-affected communities

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Inmates at the Cessnock Correctional Centre have expressed their satisfaction in helping flood-affected communities on the Northern Rivers.

More than 90 of them, along with Corrective Services Industries (CSI) staff, are currently building impressive single module-designed homes – complete with double bed, kitchen, bathroom and laundry – to provide urgent relief accommodation in Lismore and its surrounds.

The first of 40 recently left the facility, much to the delight of those involved in the project.

Inmates Scott and Shane (not their real names) said they hoped the residents enjoyed the final product, which took approximately two-and-a-half weeks to finish.

“We were happy to volunteer,” the former admitted.

“Even with the overtime work, we put our hands up for all of that.

“The more we could do, the better.

“On top of that, the experience has been fantastic.

“I can’t complain at all.

“There’s a lot of pride in what we’ve done.

“You can see the extra attention, which has been put into the units.

“Plus, it makes you work harder when you know you’re doing something worthwhile.”

Shane explained he had a personal attachment to the area, too, which reinforced his decision to participate from day one.

“I have family up there, so what’s happened [flooding] really resonated with me,” he said.

“It definitely meant a bit more to me that I could help.”

While Scott boasts a carpentry background, which proved invaluable, Shane went into the project without any specific qualifications.

But, he’s thrilled with what he’s absorbed along the way.

“I’ve primarily installed the windows; however, I was happy to assist wherever I could,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I have never had a trade before.

“So, I’ve learnt a fair bit on this project, which might be beneficial moving forward.”

Scott’s hands-on knowledge of the building industry proved pivotal to the other inmates as well.

“I worked on the frames, flooring and ceiling,” he said.

“However, I also had an opportunity to assist a few of the boys to learn some new tricks.

“It will help them integrate back into the community when they get out.

“They’ve also appreciated the assistance – a lot of them are proud of what they’ve achieved, which is great to see.

“People often put us [inmates] down but we’re keen to turn our lives around.

“It’s not always easy, however the more skills we can pick up, the better off we’ll be.”

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