Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, has joined forces with St Martins to help people released from prison in the city to find accommodation.
Thanks to backing from partners, the Foundations project is reducing reoffending by bringing vital stability to the lives of prison leavers and supporting them to reintegrate back into their communities.
Mr Green said: “Release from prison can be an overwhelming and challenging experience. Having somewhere safe and reliable to call home can significantly reduce the likelihood that someone will return to criminal behaviour – but homelessness is a very real risk. Getting help to address what makes them vulnerable to offending is vital in successfully transitioning from a life behind bars to a crime-free one back in Norfolk’s communities.”
The Foundations project’s aim of providing stable accommodation for prison leavers – as well as support to tackle the issues which make them vulnerable to reoffending – is supported by Norwich City Council, Broadland Housing and Norfolk and Suffolk Community Rehabilitation Company. Match-funding has been provided by the National Probation Service – Norfolk and Suffolk, supporting Foundations to run until September 2022.
Emma Hutchinson, Head of Resettlement Services at St Martins, said: “Offending, drug and alcohol use, poor mental health. These are just a few of the many issues faced by our clients, which impact not only upon them but on the wider society. Without somewhere safe to stay, and access to appropriate interventions and a listening ear, we see the same people returning to the lifestyles they know; the ‘revolving door’ of the criminal justice system.
“By providing a stable home, and individualised, intensive support, we offer our clients the opportunity to break these patterns of behaviour; to truly engage with the support they need to build the foundations that enable them to move forward.”
PCC Lorne Green has funded a new Person-Centred Support Officer at St Martins to work directly with prison leavers to help them access mental, physical and emotional care, and support their reintegration back into society by encouraging positive activities and links with communities.
On taking up that role, M-C Warren said: “When I saw this job advertised, I knew immediately I wanted to apply. The idea that I would offer support to an ex-offender whilst in prison and they would go straight into accommodation on release and build their new world from there really excited me.
“What I love about this project is that I have time to spend doing what the client has identified they want to work on. For example, accompanying clients to appointments, accessing education or voluntary work, talking about what their future looks like.”
Six months ago, Paul was discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt. A dependent drinker and Class A drug-user, he had a long history of offending and anti-social behaviour. He was sleeping on the street and did not engage with support services.
Today Paul is waiting for the keys to his new home and is desperate for Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to be lifted so he can begin a volunteer placement where he will train in catering.
M-C, his Person-Centred Support Worker, met Paul four months ago. She supported him into temporary accommodation and encouraged his engagement with the mental health team, drug and alcohol service, and his probation officer. Since entering the Foundations project, Paul has not reoffended. He remains abstinent and has been invited to become a Peer Mentor by the drug and alcohol service provider. With M-C’s guidance, Paul is ready to move on with his life and is building the foundations to achieve his goals.