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Raw Advantage

Annah Stretton, best known as one of NZ’s most successful and enduring fashion designer and business entrepreneurs with 26 years in the fashion industry, is lesser known for her achievements and contributions to community.

Annah is a born and bred Waikato girl, who initially began a business selling clothes under the label Annah S from a farm house while being Mum to two pre-school children. Within the space of a short time, Annah S. was a multi-million dollar business with its own boutiques within NZ and a thriving international market.

Five years ago, Annah established RAW (Reclaim Another Woman) to support women within the prison system to develop the skills, knowledge and attributes to re-integrate back into the community through multi-layered support to break the cycle of repeat offending.

Speaking at a recent student assembly, Stretton gave a powerful message about helping people whom many of us write off. Her work is mainly with women who have been to prison multiple times and for long stretches. The RAW programme helps these women to develop good decision making skills and provide opportunities for education, employment and reconnecting with children and family.

“It’s about surrounding offending women with all the skills, confidence and support networks to turn a life of crime into a life of promise. “It was a powerful message that we need to help people that others might write off,” commented Head Boy Duran Weaver-Smith in thanking Annah.

The cost to incarcerate a woman is $100,000 per annum. To date the RAW programme has saved the country $7.5 million. This excludes any associated savings from ongoing legal aid, interventions from the Police and/or Oranga Tamariki plus the direct costs of the crime itself. RAW was recently announced the winner of the 2019 AMP Capital People’s Choice Community Award.

Original article by Hauraki Plains College