A year to re­mem­ber

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

GROW­ING up with a par­ent in prison means Christ­mas isn’t al­ways a cheer­ful oc­ca­sion.

But it is hoped this year will be one to re­mem­ber for hun­dreds of in­mates’ kids in­vited to a spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion or­gan­ised by the New Zealand Prison Fel­low­ship and One­hunga Work­ing­men’s Club.

‘‘Hav­ing mum or dad in jail is hav­ing an ef­fect on the kids and it’s not their fault. This day is just for them,’’ club man­ager Vicki Dou­glas says.

There are a num­ber of chil­dren around One­hunga who have one or both par­ents in prison, she says.

‘‘We’re sup­port­ing the prison fel­low­ship be­cause they’re sup­port­ing th­ese kids so they don’t go down the same path as their par­ents.’’

The event has been held for a num­ber of years in Wellington and the Auck­land event last year was an eye opener for Dou­glas with about 250 peo­ple turn­ing up.

Many of the chil­dren were be­ing cared for by grand­par­ents or other fam­ily mem­bers and money seemed to be tight.

‘‘Last year we had two lit­tle boys come up to us and say it was the best day of their lives,’’ Dou­glas says.

Many of the chil­dren didn’t like peo­ple know­ing that their par­ents are in prison, she says.

A num­ber of One­hunga busi­nesses made do­na­tions to help get the De­cem­ber 21 party off the ground.

‘‘Once it gets around, the gen­eros­ity has been over­whelm­ing,’’ Dou­glas says.

Prison Fel­low­ship New Zealand is a Christian or­gan­i­sa­tion founded in 1982 that works with pris­on­ers, their fam­i­lies and vic­tims.

The fel­low­ship pro­vides pas­toral care for in­mates, sup­ports fam­i­lies and pro­vides af­ter­care aimed at stop­ping the cy­cle of crime.

Photo: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Christ­mas spirit: One­hunga Work­ing­men’s Club man­ager Vicki Dou­glas is look­ing for­ward to host­ing a Christ­mas din­ner for in­mates’ fam­i­lies.

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