Pillars provide wrap-around social service for 30 Auckland kids

By Regan Paranihi

Following a successful charity auction in Auckland’s city centre last night, thirty children who have a parent in prison will receive support from a mentor that will provide wrap-around social service.

Children of prisoners often get excluded from the community and tend to develop mental, physical and behavioural issues making them the invisible victims of crime, says Chief executive Verna McFelin.

Pillars is a charity that works with families of prisoners by training volunteer mentors to step in and provide support and guidance to children aged 5-18. Children with a parent in prison are nine times more likely to end up in prison as an adult than other Kiwi kids.

Every year Auckland mentors organise a charity auction to support the cause and this year has been the most successful of them all, raising over $28,000.

McFelin says there are waiting list all the time. New Zealand are building prisons at a higher rate per capita than anywhere in the world which means more prisons and more children without parents.

Mark Taylor started mentoring a 14-year-old boy six years ago and says this journey has had a huge impact on his life, he says, “You go into it thinking charity is about giving, but you get way more back than you could ever put in. It’s about understanding your community and having appreciation for what you’ve got after seeing what other people experience in their lives.”

There are more than 20,000 children who have a parent in prison.