Through education, knowledge, and access to different volunteers, the team of Mothers Project volunteers seek to empower imprisoned mothers to alleviate family challenges and maintain crucial family ties while they are in prison and when they are released.
Here’s how we help imprisoned mothers:
Keeping mothers and children connected involves understanding family law concepts and how they apply when a mother is in prison.
Our trained volunteer female lawyers visit every women’s prison in New Zealand once a month to meet one-on-one with imprisoned mothers and help them understand their responsibilities and rights regarding their children.
As appropriate, they assist mothers to understand where their children are and who is caring for them, facilitate visits and help mothers with what they need to do in order to preserve their legal rights.
If mothers wish, and with their consent, 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.
Our Storybook Programme helps imprisoned mothers and their children connect - by reading stories, mothers use their own voices to love, comfort and encourage their children even though they're not at home.
It's all about children receiving a book they know their mum held and hearing their mum's voice as she reads it to them. It's also about empowering mothers and helping them to read and connect with their children. Of our prison population, as many as 70% have significant literacy problems.
Each month, a volunteer goes into Auckland Women's Prison with a box of books and a device to record mums reading to their children. These books are then posted to the children, along with the CD recording so they can hear their mum reading and hold the book their mum held.