Prisoner educator jokes he needs 'professional beggar' tattooed on forehead to get Govt's attention for funding

The developer of a prisoner education programme has joked that he needs to tattoo 'professional beggar' on his forehead in order to get the Government's attention for funding.

Sir Graham Lowe developed the Kick for the Seagulls programme which teaches prisoners numeracy and literacy skills based on sporting principles.

He told The AM Show on Thursday one of their main ongoing issues is finding money to continue to run the programme.

"We get no funding at all. We are really fortunate Corrections help out and top up our expenses with shortfalls when we have small classes but we barely have enough to pay a wage. I don't get it. We have over 600 men who will have qualified with level 2 NCEA literacy and numeracy… it's a big course." 

He said he loves seeing the transformation of prisoners through his programme and the pride the prisoners have when they achieve so he pushes on to find money.

"I feel like a professional beggar. I'm not approaching anyone anymore. We don't need private money, we should be getting Government money from somewhere. I suppose there's a lot of buckets of it somewhere. I just don't know which one to push. 

"The next step is to get 'professional beggar' tattooed on my forehead but I refuse to do that."

He said another country has offered to fund the programme if he brings it there, but he has to jump through hoops to get funding in New Zealand.

The Government recently signed off on millions of dollars in funding for a Mongrel Mob-led rehab programme Kahukura - a live-in mārae-based programme that aims to address trauma and drug-seeking behaviour. 

The decision has been criticized for backing a gang-led programme instead of other initiatives, including Mike King's charity Gumboot Friday. 

Sir Graham told The AM Show many Kiwis find the words Mongrel Mob or Black Power 'unpalatable', but he believes the programme is important. 

"These guys, the programme needs to be delivered to these men who have issues. You can't just leave them. It is something that needs to be addressed, but I was really surprised by the amount of money they were given." 

The initiative was given $2.75 million over four years.