Volunteer with Mothers Project
New volunteers must complete application forms processed by Department of Corrections. All volunteers must then attend an induction session at the prison they will be visiting. Inductions are held regularly, usually monthly. Mothers Project will also arrange training for new volunteers on more specific aspects of being a volunteer.
Who we need
We are looking for female volunteer lawyers to visit imprisoned mothers in Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, Christchurch Women’s Prison, Arohata and Upper Arohata Prison at Rimutaka Prison in Wellington.
Often volunteers do not have expertise in family law. They may work in large commercial law firms and in-house roles. What they all have in common is a desire to help imprisoned mothers and their children.
What volunteers do
Working as a team, volunteers travel as a group to and from a prison each month where each visit lasts a few hours. Dates are agreed with Department of Corrections in advance and transport can be arranged. They visit units where mothers can ask to meet with them in a safe group setting. The work volunteers do includes:
Helping mothers understand their responsibilities and rights as parents
Locating children within the care system
Speaking with caregivers and, where involved, Oranga Tamariki on behalf of mothers regarding interaction with their children
Helping mothers document steps taken while imprisoned to keep in touch with their children
Obtaining court orders and/or Oranga Tamariki files for mothers
Reviewing and explaining legal documents
Helping mothers engage family lawyers, if needed
Coordinating with social workers to help mothers, if involved.
What to expect during a prison visit
Depending on the prison, mothers who seek assistance can sign up with staff to participate or can simply ‘walk up’ from the unit floor. Once a mother signs a consent form and provides some general background information, the volunteers will seek to help. Few issues can be addressed immediately but most do not require time-consuming follow-up. Such follow-up work is coordinated between volunteers, who often work together to help each other, and supervision is available if volunteers have questions.
Updates for the mothers are either provided via email back into the prison or shared during the next monthly visit. Different volunteers can attend each month, because follow up work is logged on a tracking chart that is organised alphabetically and only shared with volunteers, so any volunteer can update any mother during a monthly visit.