Story: Prisoner support and advocacy

Verna McFelin, PILLARS founder (2nd of 3)

Verna McFelin, PILLARS founder

Verna McFelin (second from left) founded PILLARS in 1988 after her husband went to prison. She had four children at the time, one of them a baby. For over two decades she has worked with others in PILLARS to meet the needs of thousands of prisoners' families in Christchurch and Auckland. This photograph was taken in 1989 outside the second PILLARS centre set up to assist the families of prisoners. McFelin has described how difficult it is to visit family in prison:  'You almost need counselling skills to communicate with a person in a visiting room ... You’re face to face, you can’t walk away. It’s noisy, there are security people walking around listening to you – it’s a completely different environment to being at home.'

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How to cite this page:

Kathy Dunstall, 'Prisoner support and advocacy - Other support and advocacy organisations', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 July 2020)

Story by Kathy Dunstall, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 18 May 2018