Hundreds of prisoners' kids expected at dinner

By Jacob Steiner

Kim Jones is planning a Christmas dinner for prisoners' children. Photo / Doug Sherring
Kim Jones is planning a Christmas dinner for prisoners' children. Photo / Doug Sherring

Children of jailed offenders will be treated to a group Christmas dinner this year.

It will be the first time the Auckland chapter of the New Zealand Prison Fellowship has organised a big Christmas dinner for children whose parents are in prison.

Auckland co-ordinator Kim Jones told the Herald on Sunday: "It's going to be a wonderful, respectful, joyful and fun event for children who have grown up in tough environments. A lot of these kids end up in gangs or in care, but with help of this nature they could become faithful and useful citizens."

This event has previously been run in Wellington, though this is the first year it has also occurred outside the capital.

"We did not originally have sufficient funding to hold the meal in Auckland, but people have come forward to help and it's through the generosity of these supporters that we've been able to organise it," Jones said.

"Without people's investment, it couldn't happen."

The event will be held at Onehunga Working Men's Club on Friday, December 20, from 5pm.

It is estimated 250-350 people will attend, including children and their caregivers.

One of the entertainers for the event is John Ewing, an artist who has worked on Disney books such as The Jungle Book and a co-creator of the Ches and Dale cartoons for Chesdale cheese commercials in the 1970s. Ewing will be drawing and doodling for the kids on the day.

"I'll get the kids to make a little line or scribble [on a whiteboard] and I'll turn it into a character," he said. "Making children laugh and enjoy themselves through art or drawing has a universal appeal."

Jones has also promised fun days and camps for the children, as well as practical sessions to help them achieve their potential.

"We have to start somewhere, so we're starting practically in order to encourage kids to return through their enjoyment of the dinner. It's this kind of intervention that can help change their lives."

• Anyone interested in supporting the dinner or any further events can email kim.jones@pfnz.org.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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