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Princess Anne supports prison visiting centres

Princess Anne supports prison visiting centres

Establishing visiting centres for children and families of inmates at some of New Zealand’s main prisons has been supported by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

PILLARS, an organisation which provides mentoring and other support services to prisoners’children, has been researching the introduction of visiting centres and plans to lobby Government to consider establishing them at major prisons.

The organisation’s president Dr John George and chief executive Verna McFelin recently spoke with Princess Anne about their charity and working with children of prisoners in New Zealand.

“The Princess was very knowledgeable about prison visiting centres and the plight of prisoner’s children,” says Verna McFelin.

Visiting centres, which already exist in the United Kingdom, provide a central place for children and families to gather before and after seeing a parent or family member in prison, Verna says. They can be a “one stop shop” and provide information, advice and professional services.

“Visiting centres provide an opportunity for children to be supported and not fall through the cracks.”

Children of prisoners are about seven times more likely to end up in prison than any other child, without intervention.

“Intervention is essential to ensure that this cycle of crime is broken and that these children have futures that can hold promise.

“Prisons need to become more family-friendly and improve both the quality and access to connections between an incacerated parent and their children.”

PILLARS had the opportunity to meet with Princess Anne as representatives at the Save the Children volunteer’s meeting where the Princess attended as Patron during her visit to Christchurch.

Princess Anne was also interested in the PILLARS mentoring programme for children of prisoners and said that the organisation’s recently released guide for mentors was not available in England.

“We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to talk to Princess Anne and to have her support for our plans to establish visiting centres in this country,” says Verna McFelin.


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