Home eases tran­si­tion af­ter prison

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Lisa Sloan

Re­turn­ing to fam­ily life can be dif­fi­cult for women who have just been re­leased from prison.

Ana White has made it her mis­sion to help with the tran­si­tion.

She is the man­ager of a Pil­lars house opened in Bal­moral last month.

Pil­lars is a Christchurch or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing women read­just to so­ci­ety once they are re­leased from prison.

The Bal­moral home will also re­unite chil­dren with their moth­ers in a safe en­vi­ron­ment guided by men­tors.

Mrs White says it is im­por­tant to give for­mer pris­on­ers a sec­ond chance at fam­ily life.

“The house pro­vides a safe and nur­tur­ing place for th­ese moth­ers,” she says.

“It gives them with the op­por­tu­nity to change their lives and re­con­nect with their chil­dren.

“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.”

Non­profit Pil­lars has been run­ning for 20 years in Christchurch.

The new Auck­land house opened on April 22 af­ter eight months of plan­ning.

It has been re­dec­o­rated and in­cludes three bed­rooms, a lounge, kitchen, bath­room and out­door play area.

Women will stay in the house first and be re­united with their chil­dren af­ter six weeks.

Two fam­i­lies will stay in the house at a time and each mem­ber is as­signed a men­tor.

Mrs White says the Auck­land cen­tre teaches women how to build a healthy fam­ily life.

“Of­ten with­out help they just end up in the same en­vi­ron­ment as they were be­fore and get into trou­ble again,” she says.

“We want to break the in­ter­cy­cle.”

Pil­lars chief ex­ec­u­tive Verna McFelin says it is vi­tal to help chil­dren through the process of hav­ing a par­ent in prison.

She says many show emo­tional and be­havioural prob­lems which can lead to crim­i­nal be­hav­iour.

“The stigma at­tached to hav­ing a par­ent in jail is a large bur­den for a child and can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact,” she says.

“By of­fer­ing them sup­port in any way we can they are less likely to be in­volved in crime and we can make a real change in their lives.”

For de­tails email ana. white@pil­lars.org.nz or go to www.pil­lars.org.nz.

Photo: EVOTIA TAMUA THOMPSON

Help­ing hand: Man­ager Ana White is help­ing women re­leased from prison to re­unite with their chil­dren at a new Pil­lars house in Bal­moral.

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