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We are independent volunteer female lawyers who help mothers try to connect with their children
Mothers Project helps mothers in prison try to maintain meaningful connections with their children 
because, when a mother is imprisoned, her children serve that sentence as well.

When a mother is in prison, she becomes separated from her children. Our volunteers help imprisoned mothers connect with their children .


Our volunteers help imprisoned mothers to maintain crucial family ties while the mothers are separated from their children.

Story Behind Mothers Project
Why get involved
Most rewarding aspect
Impact of mothers project
Gaining trust
Most challenging aspect

Just because a mother has committed a crime, doesn’t mean she’s not a good mother.

We believe around 85% of imprisoned women in Aotearoa are mothers. Many are single mums and some were the sole caregiver for their children before going to prison. Even if they haven’t yet been convicted or sentenced, mothers can be away from their children for months, sometimes longer.

Good relationships between mothers and their children, even when they’re separated by prison walls, can benefit child wellbeing, and reduce parent reoffending which is why the team at Mothers Project does whatever it can to try and support imprisoned mothers stay connected with their children.

Volunteer lawyers who are trained and coordinated by Mothers Project, visit every women’s prison in New Zealand every month offering their services pro-bono to help mothers understand their responsibilities and rights regarding their children.

Women Managed by Corrections 

Many women who offend are primary caregivers. If they receive the support they need to turn their own lives around, that will have a positive impact on their children, families and our communities.

6,712 women are under the management of Corrections 

675 (6.8% of the prison population) are in prison 

An estimated 85% are mothers.

How we help mothers

Good relationships between mothers and their children can benefit child wellbeing and reduce parent reoffending. Lawyer volunteers trained and coordinated by Mothers Project visit every women’s prison in New Zealand every month to help imprisoned mothers understand their responsibilities and rights regarding their children.

"We want to ensure kids who have a mum in prison can stay connected and feel comfortable visiting her and the mum knows where her children are and who’s looking after them."

- Stacey Shortall, Mothers Project Founder 

Volunteers assist mothers to understand where their children are, who is caring for them and what the mothers need to do in order to preserve their legal rights. Volunteers make calls to Oranga Tamariki (the Ministry for  Children), family members, caregivers, schools and legal aid lawyers, to open communication lines and share information, and arrange prison calls and visits with children as appropriate.

Feedback from both mothers and volunteers working on Mothers Project has been positive. Mothers describe being appreciative that someone in a volunteer capacity is willing to help them. Volunteers get a new perspective on the challenging lives of some women and children in our country.

Mothers Project is a programme created by registered charity Who Did You Help Today? to connect our communities to create positive change.

Here are some examples of how we help mothers
Meet Pania

Pania is serving a short sentence and
has three children under six.

Meet Ria

Ria is concerned about what happens to her young children while she serves her medium-term sentence.

Meet Hana

Hana is four months pregnant and
facing up to ten years in prison.

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