In 2019, Charlotte te Riet Scholten-Phillips moved from the Netherlands to New Zealand. Three years later, she's now GBB's Programme Manager, with plans to apply her international development background and keen interest in spreading kindness through developing our programmes.
"GBB's mission to make Aotearoa the kindest place on earth really spoke to me," Charlotte shares. "I think if we're all a bit kinder, we can make the world a better place."
Charlotte's current focus is on expanding Prison Bake across Aotearoa, and planning the holistic expansion of GBB's programmes. Prison Bake was launched in 2018 in Rimutaka Prison, and then in Arohata Prison, both in the Wellington region. The programme involves volunteers spending consecutive Saturday mornings teaching a group of prisoners who are nearing the end of their sentences how to bake, all while talking about GBB's kaupapa. Groups baked two batches each weekend, which were donated to GBB recipient organisations around Wellington. Prisoners were asked to write a note to accompany the donation in the same way all our volunteers do. GBB's aim is to implement the programme in all of the country’s 25 prisons.
"Although we're on hold due to the country having been in the red light setting, we're really excited about launching our next Prison Bake in Otago Corrections Facility near Milton. The new programme will be for eight weeks, with a group of 10-12 prisoners. Dunedin's Head Bitch Penny Easton has been really supportive, and we've just created a totally new committee role: Prison Bake Bitch, which Megan Walker has taken on. She will organise and run the Prison Bake programme with support from HQ." says Charlotte.
Once this Prison Bake is launched, Charlotte plans to return to Rimutaka and Arohata, and, if possible, also to start in Christchurch Women's Prison and Northland Region Corrections Facility this year. She'll be looking for GBB volunteers who are interested in taking part, and also hoping to find people whose talents lie in organisation and logistics to be Prison Bake Bitch for their local chapter.
"This is a great programme because the prisoners who participate often may not have experienced much kindness in their lives," Charlotte explains. "Prison Bake helps prisoners realise that they can be kind to others, which is a very powerful moment.
"It can also change the minds of people receiving the baking, and even of our volunteers, about why people end up in prison, and helps them to understand that even though these people are in prison, they can turn their lives around."
One of the programme's goals is to build a positive kindness feedback loop between volunteers, prisoners, and recipient organisations. "At the end of each baking session, volunteers and prisoners will share a cup of tea, enjoy a bit of baking, chat about the feedback recipient organisations sent for the bakers, and about what kindness means to them."
Charlotte also has lots of plans for new GBB programmes. "I would like to use a whole community kindness approach, with programmes for children, youth, and adults that enable people to show kindness in ways that they're comfortable with. Some of our early thinking is around providing kindness curriculum resources to teach kids in school, providing practical kindness workshops about gardening, cooking, and baking in Alternative Schools, or running School Bakes in Teen Parent Units that include preparing healthy meal options for lunchboxes."
Charlotte is also considering how to develop the Cup of Sugar programme, and how to deliver a form of 'Assisted' Bitching in residential care homes.
"If we can get people at all stages and in all walks of life being kinder to each other, we really can make Aotearoa the kindest place on earth. The working title for our new programming at the moment is 'A Bloody Kind World'," laughs Charlotte.
These are ambitious ideas to grow kindness in new and exciting ways for GBB, and we look forward to sharing more updates about how they evolve!