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Sophie Parker - Residential Manager

29 June 2022
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When Sophie Parker first joined the UK Prison Service in 2014, she told herself that she would just do it for two years and then move on.

Eight years later, on the other side of the world, she’s been with Ara Poutama Aotearoa for five years and is now a Residential Manager at Mount Eden Corrections Facility.

Sophie says that while a career at Ara Poutama Aotearoa can be challenging at times, the opportunity to be part of positive change is extremely fulfilling.

“There are too many [standout] moments to choose from… This is a very rewarding career, and you can make a huge change if you have the right mentality.

Even knowing you have helped one person is a very rewarding feeling.”

She gives an example of a man who she built trust with based on a common experience they shared. From when she first started working with him, Sophie saw him start to put a lot more effort into their sessions and make genuine progress.

“When you see the men putting in this much effort to change it really does show our purpose. To be part of their journey, even in the smallest ways and help them break down some of their barriers is why I love doing this job.”

In her current role as Residential Manager, Sophie looks after all COVID-19 positive, close contacts & Directed Protective Custody prisoners. She says the past year has been busy, but she has appreciated how adaptable her team has been through the challenge of managing an outbreak in the prison.

“Seeing how well staff pulled together so fast to get on top of the spread really made me proud of each and every one of them. They really displayed our values throughout that hard time.”

Sophie highlights that the close supportive relationships within her team and the inclusiveness of the organisation are among the things that she loves about working at Ara Poutama Aotearoa.

“In this environment the people you work with day in day out become very special to you. This job can be challenging but the beauty is you all go through hard times together and you also share all the good times together. You will not find an environment with such a close-knit team as you do in the Department.

In light of Pride month, I would also like to add that as a member of the SOGIESC community, I am tremendously happy that I have the support of the Senior Management Team in making the workplace more inclusive.

I became a champion in the Inclusion & Diversity and Rainbow space and whenever I have taken ideas back to Mount Eden Correctional Facility of small things we can do to acknowledge all our staff, I have had the full support of the Prison Director.

It’s these little things that make big differences for staff, being acknowledged for who you are and not having to hide. It’s refreshing”.

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