The housing and homelessness charity

Shelter Scotland / England

The Prison Project

We can help you if

  • You are an offender or their family
  • You're approaching the end of your time in HMP Perth, Grampian or Inverness or have been released.

Project overview

The Prison Project aims to break the cycle of a lack of stable accommodation and re-offending. We work with HMP Perth, Grampian and Inverness. The Prison Project is a partnership project between Shelter Scotland, Inverness CAB (Citizen’s Advice Bureau) and Sacro and is a Big Lottery funded initiative.

This is how we do it

Our housing advisers will provide free, confidential and impartial housing advice through face to face contact within prison or upon release. Some of our housing advice covers homelessness, rent arrears, housing benefit, housing Applications and keeping a tenancy. support prisoners to maintain their accommodation through their prison sentence, responsibly give up their accommodation where appropriate.

The Prison Project staff work closely with agencies to ensure that a client’s housing and wider support needs are met. Targeted support will be provided until clients are in safe, secure accommodation with access to available benefits or education, training or employment. Our staff work with statutory, voluntary, community and private sector partners, including criminal justice services, NHS, housing providers, employability agencies and carers.

Both throughcare and re-settlement support from our team ensures a smooth transition to accommodation and help with related appointments facilitates the introduction of other specialist support agencies, including support to reduce re-offending.

Families of prisoners have access to regular community drop-in support sessions to deal with any related housing problems or homelessness.

Partnership information

Sacro has been working with and for offenders and those affected by crime for over 40 years and is Scotland’s principal Third Sector provider of Criminal Justice Services. Sacro’s mission is to promote safe and cohesive communities by reducing conflict offending.

Inverness CAB’s vision is to provide the advice people need for the problems they face and equally to improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives. The Inverness CAB service provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. It values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination.

A Client's story

Background

Derek* was a ‘revolving door’ client. His last custodial sentence ended in January 2013 but his release only lasted 10 days. Derek’s most recent sentence was a 6 month sentence for shoplifting which began on 29 January 2013, due to end 6 April 2013. He has a tenancy with Dundee City Council which began in August 2012 and was in receipt of housing benefit prior to custody.  Derek has applied for HDC (Home Detention Curfew) with a first possible date at the end of February 2013. He is currently low category so there should be no problems with him being granted this.

Derek also has two children aged 11 and 8 years and advises that he is working with the Social Work Department towards having access to them at the weekends.

He previously had heroin addiction problems but these are being addressed.

Actions

The Prison Project housing adviser made a referral to a Support worker for them to meet the client on his released date at the prison gates to deal with any immediate issues he has.  This included getting electricity to the property re-connected as it had been cut off while Derek was in prison.

As Derek has no food or money to buy anything on his release, it was also important to apply for a £50 crisis loan and a food parcel. This too was arranged by the support worker and they accompanied Derek to these appointments.

Meantime, the Housing Adviser was liaising with the local authority to apply for Housing Benefit and backdated benefit on behalf of Derek to prevent rent arrears increasing which would result in court action and possible eviction.

To address the addiction issues, the Support Worker arranged and accompanied Derek to appointments at the Drug Problem Centre. This allows his drug misuse to be regulated and monitored with the intention of withdrawing from heroin in the long term.

Current Situation

Derek is meeting with support worker once a week on a regular basis. There is also telephone contact regularly in between these visits. He is engaging positively and enjoys the encouragement and support he receives.  Support sessions include:

  • shopping and budgeting
  • attending appointments
  • dealing with mail
  • attending the library
  • looking for work/training
  • peer support and mentoring

Derek is motivated towards having his children stay with him at weekends.  He has regular contact with Social Work Department about access to the children and they have commented on how well he is looking and doing.

The next steps are for Derek to continue to engage positively, continue to attend appointments, engage with peer support and mentoring, get onto a methadone programme and eventually have access to his children.

As a result of The Prison Project, Derek has succeeded in areas that he has not done before.  With the intervention and support of The Prison Project, he has managed to keep his tenancy, clear his rent arrears, attend all appointments, stopped offending and stayed liberated for a considerable period of time.  Social work department are currently considering giving Derek 1 hour supervised contact per week with his children.  He acknowledges the difference The Prison Project has made and remarks:

“If it wasn’t for the help of the project, I would have been back inside by now”

(*name has been changed.)

Contact us

The Prison Project

Telephone: 0344 515 2535
Email:span@shelter.org.uk

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