Home eases transition after prison
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. email@example.com or go to www.pillars.org.nz.
Helping hand: Manager Ana White is helping women released from prison to reunite with their children at a new Pillars house in Balmoral.