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Support for mother prisoners first for New Zealand

Media release

9 April 2008

Support for mother prisoners first for New Zealand

A unique service which provides support and accommodation for mothers released from prison is being opened in Auckland by PILLARS this month.

"The house provides a safe and nurturing place for these mothers to provide them with the opportunity to change their lives and to reconnect with their children once they leave prison," says PILLARS' Auckland Regional Manager Ana White.

"There is a huge impact on the children of these women and, by helping their mothers we can really make a difference to the family's future," she says. PILLARS is a community-based organisation established in Christchurch in 1988 to provide mentoring and support services to prisoners' children and their families.

The Balmoral house opens on Tuesday April 22 and provides a unique and comprehensive service to women as they leave prison.

"This wrap-around service is a first for New Zealand and PILLARS. We see it as an essential part of our role to support these women to become mothers again, and to encourage the family to get back together."

Accommodation is available for two women who are referred to PILLARS by the prisons' re-integration team and must meet certain criteria before they are assessed by PILLARS.

"The women will be from throughout New Zealand and will enter the house as part of their parole conditions. Initially we will only be able to take Auckland prisoners," says Ana.

The women will stay at the Balmoral house for up to three months and will participate in parenting programmes and basic life skills. The mothers will then be gradually re-introduced to their children who, later in the programme, will be able to stay with them at the PILLARS house.

"The bonding process with the children will be slow but will encourage them to make a fresh start together," says Ana White.

"It's always been my passion to help these women and we're very excited about this new service because we know it will make a huge difference to these children's lives."

ENDS


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