Kiwis challenged to correctly identify child of a prisoner
Thursday 25 September
Kiwis challenged to correctly identify the child of a prisoner
Photography Exhibition to help break stigma during Children of Prisoners Week
Auckland commuters will be confronted by an interactive photo exhibition showcasing successful Kiwis to raise awareness of Pillars’ Children of Prisoners Week at Queen Elizabeth Square yesterday and inside Britomart today until 6pm.
With over 20,000 New Zealand children having a parent in prison, support and services for these children are vital. The child of a prisoner in New Zealand is around seven times more likely to end up in prison when compared to their peers.
Pillars is a charity that has been helping the children of prisoners for more than 25 years. The organisation provides a support service for children and families of prisoners including the mentoring programme.
Pillars’ vision is to break the cycle of crime children of prisoners often face and give them a bright future. Children of Prisoners Week aims to raise awareness about the stigma children of prisoners can face and to highlight that with support these children can have the happiness and hope they are entitled to.
The New Zealanders on display include MP Grant Robertson and television personality Miriama Kamo. The exhibition to be held in downtown Auckland at QEII Square will launch on 24 September from 7am and promises to reveal two of the six Kiwis are children of former prisoners. Aucklanders will be encouraged to vote who they think had the experience of being a child of a prisoner in their own life and the answer revealed at a later time.
The exhibition is aimed at questioning people’s perceptions about children of prisoners and demonstrates that they can grow up to be successful individuals with positive support from the community.
Grant Robertson will be at the exhibition along with some of the other ambassadors and Pillars volunteer mentors who will be available for media interviews. The mentors will be there to share their experiences with Aucklanders to help them understand that they themselves have gained so much from their time with the children.
The Pillars Facebook will be utilised for the public to go online and participate. They can vote for who they believe is the child of a former prisoner. The answer will be revealed on Thursday evening 25 September, firstly to media outlets and then through social media.
Verna McFelin, Chief Executive and founder, established Pillars over 25 years ago after experiencing a family member going to prison. Verna is a strong advocate for the rights of children of prisoners and is passionate about changing the cycle of intergenerational offending.
The organisation is based in Christchurch with a branch in South Auckland to provide services and resources around New Zealand to children of prisoners and their families, including volunteer mentoring and a non- judgemental national helpline.
Children of prisoners often end up dealing with more than just losing a parent; they can also struggle with emotional and physical health problems. Issues such as bed wetting, anger, and bullying or victim behaviour often impede on their educational abilities and choices they make later on in life.
Pillars have helped over 7000 families so far that have a family member in prison and relies on support from the community to fund the mentoring programme. The public will be able to donate to the effort through texting (text Pillars to 4266 to donate $3), or by going to the Pillars website www.pillars.org.nz.