Helping homeless people get back on track

30 Jun 2022
Often at their most vulnerable, the consequences of being forced to bed down in a bus shelter or a shop doorway can be devastating when newly released. Craving security and stability, they can find themselves alone and often dependent on drugs or alcohol. The Commissioned Rehabilitative Services’ (CRS) accommodation service aims to turn that situation around, supporting people in prison or on probation with the practical help and support they need to get their lives back on track.

Delivered by Ingeus, the accommodation service provides vital support in sourcing accommodation across South Central England for males aged over 18 who are leaving custody or on probation. Advisors and community support workers offer a tailored service, advising and guiding service users to find the accommodation they need. 

Why do so many people leaving prison or on probation end up homeless?
Broken family relationships, being homeless before entering prison or lengthy delays in receiving benefits all contribute to putting people at high risk of life on the streets, with 12.8% of women and 11.8% of men released from prison ending up rough sleeping in 2020/21.

How does CRS’s accommodation service help?
After discussing their housing needs with their probation practitioner, a service user is referred to accommodation services. Working with an advisor, a personalised support plan is created to help the service user lead a more independent life. Many advisors and mentors have lived experience, offering an instinctive understanding of the service user’s situation and exactly what support they would benefit from.

Workshops: Service users are given the opportunity to attend a range of workshops run by accommodation services. They can help with:
•    Finding a property
•    Financial advice regarding rent, housing benefit and council tax benefit, including practical support with filling out application forms
•    Financial advice around debt, budgeting and bills
•    Being a good neighbour and being part of the community
Signposting: Advisors will put service users in touch with community partners, such as New Hope, who provide an additional service with finding accommodation. New Hope uses 13 houses in the East Midlands to provide a stable base for service users with addiction issues who may not be ready to attend a rehabilitation centre.

Peer mentor support: Service users receive ongoing online and face-to-face support from a peer mentor, someone who is currently on their own probation journey who can share any advice or tips they’re learned so far. In turn, the service user may have the opportunity to become a peer mentor themselves as they progress.

Who are CRS’s partners with the accommodation service?
CRS works alongside many organisations who share the aim of finding safe and stable accommodation for people on probation. These include:

Renova Housing Trust: A Christian faith-based charity providing supported housing to formerly homeless or precariously housed people and people on probation. Each person is offered a mentor and key-worker who give practical support. The charity helps people like service user Steve, who was homeless, unable to see his children and family. Since CRS’s and the charity’s intervention he has stable housing, is receiving benefits and is actively seeking work. He’s also engaging with alcohol dependency services. 

The Red Cross: A charity offering support to people across the UK and the world, including special services to migrants coming out of prison. One foreign service user found himself released from prison and without anywhere to live. Put in touch with the Red Cross by his probation practitioner, he was given temporary accommodation and, after successfully applying for the right to stay in the UK, was housed at the end of 2021.

Patrick House: Based in Southampton, Patrick House is part of Two Saints, a charity helping homeless and vulnerable people to get back on their feet. Experiencing personal hygiene and mental health issues, Paul was referred by his probation practitioner to CRS and is now living in supported accommodation at Patrick House.

What services are available for women?
While 85% of all people who find themselves homeless are male, a recent report from HMP Bronzefield – the largest women’s prison in the UK – found that 65% of women were being released without safe accommodation to go to.

This year, Ingeus has launched an accommodation service for both male and female service users. Based in Manchester, it provides tailored support to males and females, aged 18 and above, in custody and the community. Working closely with probation practitioners, Ingeus’s female specialist key worker provides housing support to women based at HM Prison Styal in Cheshire and to female service users returning to the Greater Manchester area on release.

Ingeus works closely with local authorities, private and voluntary sector organisations, including Women’s Centres across Greater Manchester, to help women involved in the criminal justice system lead happy, safe and successful lives. Service users are offered appointments in women-only, community-based locations. 

To find out more about CRS and the different lifelines it offers, visit Ingeus - Commissioned Rehabilitative Services

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