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Wedding Gift to be given to Pillars New Zealand

Pillars New Zealand is delighted to be the recipient of the New Zealand Government’s gift for the marriage of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle this Saturday.

The gift of $5000 will be used by Pillars as a special scholarship fund for children with a parent in prison.

“How wonderful that this generous gift comes to Pillars on the 30th anniversary of our organisation’s existence” said Verna McFelin, Chief Executive of Pillars New Zealand. “We will use this opportunity to mark the wedding present as a special fund.”

More than 23,000 children are affected by having a parent in prison and they are often affected socially and economically by the changes in their lives.

Pillars New Zealand assists the children of parents who are in prison with a variety of programmes including mentoring, programmes within prison and general assistance to families and whanau.

Support is available through the Family Wraparound service which is a home-based family support programme delivered by family/whanau workers to help strengthen care for children, a new Family Start programme working with the parents of pregnant or very young children to help them understand and learn some child raising skills, and Pillars Family Pathway Centres in prison where families and whanau can visit the centre which is designed to provide a child friendly environment conducive to strengthening bonds between the prisoner and their children. Pillars also offers mentoring for children, support groups for families and a helpline for any families needing immediate support.

“These children are often invisible and yet are so vulnerable in our communities”, Ms McFelin said. “We really appreciate this gift which will help some of these children achieve at a greater level.”

Being the Founder and Chief Executive of Pillars Incorporated for 30 years and having had the experience of a family member in prison herself in the early 1980’s, makes Verna a strong advocate for the rights of children of prisoners in New Zealand and developing best practice in order to prevent inter-generational offending.

In 2011 she was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community and the Every Chld Counts Individual Award.

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