What can working in Offender Resettlement involve? In what ways do Resettlement staff offer support to their clients? Four members of Shelter staff share just one of their cases to portray just some of their things that their workdays can involve. Read the stories below to find out more:
A very vulnerable young man, aged 19, at HMP Hull had fled the family home to prevent angering his new step- father. He had been sofa surfing for a year and was stealing to fund his addiction to Spice. During this time, he also witnessed a fatality in a local hostel due to a NPS overdose and was severely affected by this experience. On entering custody, he was very frightened as it was his first time with HMP services.
Whilst inside he was given support from Shelter to engage with DART, a sustained withdrawal programme and was clean on release. Counselling and support was also provided by chaplaincy to avoid PTSD after witnessing the fatality. As he had nowhere to live a homeless application was made to Barnsley MBC who signposted and referred him to Quarry View, a local supported housing provider.
Shelter helped him through the telephone assessment and interview arranged in custody. As a result of which, his accommodation was secured on release with a full support package attached. Upon leaving prison he will be supported to complete an apprenticeship and mechanics course arranged by Quarry View. He will also be given continued counselling and a family liaison will be provided as part of the new support package.
The client initially came to our attention when he requested assistance when first being transferred into HMP Humber. He held a relatively new Housing Association tenancy in the community but his sentence was well over 13 weeks so was not eligible for housing benefit whilst in custody.
In terms of out of cohort work; we liaised with the client’s landlord to relinquish his tenancy as he had no way of paying his rent whilst in custody and his sentence was well over 13 weeks. In terms of his belongings, we also liaised with a friend to store some of his possessions and liaised with a disability service to store his mobility scooter. When the client was assessed again for pre-release we liaised with HMP Humber’s Healthcare department to provide a robust homeless application to his local authority providing full details of his health issues.
We liaised with North East Lincolnshire Council to secure ground floor temporary accommodation for the client. The client was released on the day before the new year bank holiday and we managed to secure ground floor accommodation through The Salvation Army in Grimsby.
This was a real multi-agency approach from when the client entered our establishment to him being released. We liaised with a host of agencies such as disability support services, housing associations, local authorities, healthcare departments etc. to achieve a positive outcome for the client. Although he lost his secure housing association tenancy we prevented him from accumulating large debts (while at the same time improving his chances of being accommodated by the housing association in question), stored his belongings and provided him with supported accommodation upon release.
The client was being released NFA (No Further Action) at licence end date, and felt apprehensive about their upcoming release due to lack of accommodation and problems that he had encountered previously on release with finding accommodation due to his High-Risk status.
I liaised with the client’s Offender Manager (OM) and we discussed options available within the Hull area. Following discussion of those options with the client I made calls to providers within the Hull area. The client was granted a telephone assessment with Vineyard in Hull, and subsequently offered accommodation with their project.
The client was thrilled that he would have accommodation to go to immediately on release.
The challenges related to the client’s risk status in the community and the reluctance of housing providers to accept him as a result. Spending time talking to the client, his OM, and reading reports from custody and probation enabled me to promote the client’s positive qualities and attitudes with the accommodation provider.
HMP Askham Grange
A pre-release was completed with the client and her 3-month child at the 12-week stage to her release. At this point she was being released to her partner’s address which he privately rented. Her partner resided at the address with their two other children however he was having some issues with his private landlord. The landlord was visiting the property regularly without notice and was pressurising the partner to sign a new tenancy agreement. The private landlord was unaware of the client and another child in custody as the tenancy commenced whist the client was still in custody.
The property consisted of two small bedrooms which was hardly adequate for him and the two teenagers living there. With the release of the client and their new arrival the property would be now unsuitable.
Shelter liaised with the client’s partner both via telephone calls and email and advised him to approach his local authority to attend a housing options appointment with a supporting letter. Shelter also advised the client’s partner to politely remind the landlord of his responsibilities in terms of the tenants right to “quiet enjoyment” as well as his intention to reside with the client, therefore meaning that he would not renew the tenancy.
Housing advice was provided to explain the overcrowding issue and where the family stood legally under homelessness legislation. The family were also advised on what the local authority’s duty would be to them if they approached them for assistance and explained the likely options.
Through guidance from Shelter the client’s partner approached his local authority and the family were put on the housing waiting list. Again, through support the landlord was informed by the partner of his intentions and an agreement was made to enter into a rolling contract after the tenancy expiry date.
A few days before the client was released we met again for an update and the family were actively bidding on the local authority’s housing waiting list and hopeful of securing suitable accommodation soon after her release.
By liaising with the client’s family in the community, interventions to resolve the housing issues that the family as a whole were likely to face could be put in place immediately at the 12-week stage. Also by providing comprehensive housing and legal advice the family were fully aware of what the landlord’s and local authority’s responsibilities were - as well as the likely housing options open to them.