Every year, some 23,000 Kiwi children suffer the distress and heartache of having their Mum, Dad, or both in prison.

The tamariki/children of people in prison often live-in households, with a parent or carer who may be struggling to cope. Many are dealing with shame, embarrassment, stigma, and loneliness. The whanau/family has often had to relocate to maintain contact with the incarcerated person or to escape an unsavoury situation.

Most of us will experience stress in our lives but that stress is usually short-lived, and we can recover afterwards. Thousands of tamariki/children are serving a sentence, paying for crimes they did not commit. The effects of which can and do last a lifetime.

Research tells us that the tamariki/children of people in prison are around ten times more likely to go to prison than other kiwi children; they are the 'vulnerable of the vulnerable’. Without proper support, children of people in prison can become socially isolated with a lack of aroha/love, awhi/care or a sense of hope for their future which can lead to a pathway of destruction.

Pillars works to stabilise a whanau/family, and then match the tamariki/children aged five to 17 years with a trained volunteer mentor who supports them for no less than 12 months. The mentor meets up with the mentee once a fortnight for a minimum of a year and undertakes a number of developmental activities. These are aimed at building strong relationships by providing consistency and stability in the child or young person’s life at a time when they desperately need it. They have fun exploring their community and shared interests, with the mentor often being the first truly ‘askable adult’ in their mentee’s life. The mentors attend Pillars monthly supervision and professional development sessions for the first 12 months.

Argosy have been supporting our Pillars children and events in Auckland for many years. Their level of generosity has allowed us to deliver some amazing fun, educational and special Christmas events. There is nothing like seeing a child or young person having fun and trying things that without such support would not be possible in their world.