Support for families of female inmates

By Wright Communications

The recently launched Family Works Out of Gate Family service offers advocacy, navigation and support services to the families of female inmates who are expected to be in prison for less than two years. The service is a part of the services provided by Presbyterian Support Northern.

Women make up only seven per cent of New Zealand's inmate population but their imprisonment can be tough on their families, particularly when they are primary caregivers of children.

Presbyterian Support Northern General Manager for Development Wendy Hoskin says the Out of Gate Family programme will fill a gap in the provision of services to vulnerable families. It has received $98,000 from the Department of Corrections for the first year.

"Having your mother or partner or daughter sent to prison is a disruptive experience and it's important these families are given the help they need during a difficult time."

The service will focus on the three women's prisons in New Zealand and provide support to families based in the Northern, Central and Upper South Island Presbyterian Support areas.

"Our service will support both the carer and the children of the woman in prison. The plan will identify issues for the newly configured family," Hoskin says.

"We will work with the family to access their needs and wrap the services which they require around them. We will refer them to other agencies to provide services for them as well as refer them to our own services."

Presbyterian Support Northern is also planning a service that would provide counselling and a parenting programme for female prisoners.

Family Works supports at-risk children and their families to help them address complex issues like violence and conflict. Our services include counselling, social workers in schools, budgeting advice, emergency food parcels, family dispute resolution and group programmes for women and children affected by family violence. We're part of Presbyterian Support Northern, a charitable social services provider which works alongside children and families in communities across the upper North Island.


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