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By JACINTA CARROLL

An organisation supporting children with a parent in jail is in urgent need of additional volunteers.

Bathurst Shine for Kids works with, and for, young children with a parent in jail by supporting them and inspiring them to reach their potential.

These children are hidden in the community and can feel very isolated and stigmatised and Shine for Kids assists and supports children of prisoners to develop coping mechanisms and provides opportunities for them to support each other.

Program development and support officer for Bathurst Shine for Kids, Trish Carr, said it was wonderful program.

“Visiting a prison can be a daunting and confusing experience for anyone,” she said.

“The Shine for Kids Child and Family Centres provide child-friendly, supportive venues for families, children and all visitors to ‘drop in’ when visiting prisons, to relax and unwind before or after their visit,” she said.

Ms Carr said Bathurst Shine for Kids have two weekend programs they are keen to have running every week.

“At the moment with the limited volunteers we can only run either the invisit or the centre visit. Shine would love new volunteers to come on board to work either a Saturday or Sunday, you can volunteer weekly, fortnightly or monthly to suit your schudule,” she said.

The program runs both days from 9.30am until 3pm.

The Prison Invisits Program provides a variety or arts, craft and diversionary activities for children when visiting their parent in prison.

When children encounter a more enjoyable visit with their parent, they will develop a stronger child-parent bond.

Activities with children to facilitate play and bonding with the parent may include art activities and games, including board games and ball games, craft activities such as painting, drawing and art construction, books and reading activities and playing with toys that make the environment feel safe and familiar.

She said all that was needed to volunteer was a friendly and open personality with a willingness to work within the prison visitors’ centre.

“In most cases, volunteers work in pairs and a Working with Children Check is required and is free for volunteers,” she said.

Training is provided and people interested in volunteering can call 6328 9900 or email volunteering@shinefor kids.org.au.

SHINE FOR KIDS: The Shine for Kids team includes volunteer Laura Cole, carer support worker Louise Arnold, volunteer Mary Martensz, program development and support worker Trish Carr and volunteer Tiffany McCormick. 
Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK
Reproduced courtesy of the Western Advocate