On Tuesday 12th January, 22 people ranging from frontline staff, GMCA officers, experts, people with lived experience attended and participated in the GMHAN Prison and Resettlement Open space meeting. The meeting had been requested during GMHAN Full Network event on 25th November to explore and discuss the challenges and issues connecting homelessness with prison releases and resettlement.
David Sutherland, Chair of Bury Homeless Partnership and an active member of GMHAN, facilitated the meeting and welcomed the opportunity for attendees to come together around this complex issue.
Colleagues participated in one of three breakout session, all addressing three key questions, which generated great engagement and insight.
- Is there a pathway / further work on prison releases? Is there an example of good and bad?
- What are the things you think we should be focusing on to reduce reoffending and support individuals into accommodation? – On release and into longer term tenancies?
- Engagement is not a simple choice for many in the CJS. Individuals often experience a gradual process of disengagement that becomes entrenched. How do we address this and what are the enabling opportunities for SU engagement within this service?
The key take-aways for each break out session were:
- We know that people are released onto the streets
- Release dates can change which then aren’t communicated
- People get transferred between different areas and then lose support
- People coming out of prison on a Friday or the weekend and most of the services not being available to help, as closed earlier or given limited time to help support that person.
- Lack of Face to face contact during Covid
- Peer mentoring prior to release – they understand the transition
- Link between inside probation and outside probation is vital.
- People need to be met at the gate
- Sustain people’s tenancy whilst in prison by still providing the housing element through Universal Credit,
- The Housing First model was raised as an example of what good looks like – they don’t put conditions on people to access housing
- Co-locating social workers, probation and support services – improves communications between everyone which improves chances of helping clients
- Collective collaboration, co-production of independent services that are delivering new dynamic approaches as opposed to the more traditional service approach which are failing to show them it can be achieved. re amalgamation of probation services and community payback to help people who have released don’t reoffend and go back to prison
- There should be a Multidisciplinary Team approach in prison and out
- Individualized approach to work – treating residents as individuals and focusing on their strengths, rather than seeing them as a tick-box or a contract requirement.
- Accounting for the complex needs of service users and the individual impact this can have is essential for reducing reoffending
- People should not be labelled “hard to engage” non engagement on one day should not mean that support is removed. We need to understand individuals’ experiences
- Creating a dynamic approach – adapting approach to fit a service users complex needs in order to get the best outcome for them.
Important factors which will help prevent homelessness as a result of prison release:
- Clear communication between organisation
- Early preparation prior to release
- Access to phone
- Face to face contact
- Access to common information for orgs.
- No delays in getting support
- Perseverance – no one failure and thats that!
We would like to hold a follow up meeting to discuss further best practices and establish actions points. The meeting would be held on 30th March 2021 at 11 am and you can register via this link here.
Could you please answer the following 3 questions to help us shape the upcoming meeting.
Please send us your reply by Monday 1st March 2021.