Displaying items by tag: Housing
On 18 September 2013 the 700 Club marked its 16th year providing temporary accommodation and support services to vulnerable individuals, families and couples who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless and/or are in condition of need, hardship or distress.
The services they provide include:
- Supported hostel accommodation for individuals and couples aged 18+.
- Housing related floating support for those with substance misuse problems
- Out of hours emergency food
- Basic skills and employment training
1625 Independent People offer temporary supported housing to young people aged 16-25 for up to six months in Bristol, aiming for the future when the young person can live independently. Whilst staying at the unit, support is ongoing with:
- A support worker to help young people develop skills and independence
- Education, employment and training support
- Access to specialist services such as mental health, drug and alcohol, mediation
There is also provision for housing in South Gloucestershire.
There is no shortage of research exploring the relationship between involvement in the criminal justice system and increased problems in accessing housing. A substantially high proportion of prisoners are known to have accommodation needs at point of release; according to the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction survey, 79 per cent of prisoners who reported being homeless before custody were reconvicted in the first year after release, compared with 47 per cent who did not report being homeless before custody (Williams et al., 2012). Evidence suggests that lack of adequate housing upon release counteracts the assistance that is provided whilst an individual is in custody; thus, a concentration on services focused towards accommodation offers not only practical solutions to a lack of housing, but holistic support for those who find themselves in unstable circumstances upon re-entering the community.
In January 2013, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) undertook a research project for the housing charity, St Mungo’s, on the housing needs of women from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups leaving HMP Holloway. Organisations such as St Mungo’s facilitate services for those currently serving a prison sentence in order to help with the various challenges faced by individuals upon release; once ‘beyond the gate’, women in particular experience a variety of difficulties in finding accommodation for themselves and their families. The aim of the service for BME women is not only to help meet housing need, but additionally provide follow-up assistance to guide women beyond their housing placement and, if necessary, refer them to other services.
The goal of the research was to offer a series of recommendations which would assist St Mungo’s in engaging with the current practical challenges facing its services, and to ultimately help resolve these issues in order to benefit both the staff and service users. This involved generating evidence about the housing needs of BME women leaving prison, and about the needs that may affect outcomes from its service. The research involved the analysis of data provided by St Mungo’s in order to establish the nature of the relationships between housing needs and outcomes. The project team, led by Research Director, Dr Roger Grimshaw, conducted interviews with six service users to explore their views about the attributes of a good service, and the methods by which a good service should engage with its users. Interviews were also undertaken with St Mungo’s staff in order to find out how they view the relationship between needs and outcomes, and what, in their view, could be changed to assist in the improvement of the outcomes for its users.
The final report from the research team at CCJS put forward a number of long and short term recommendations to the organisation regarding service user needs, outcomes and further service development. Figures obtained from St Mungo’s demonstrated that the most frequent outcome for service users was assistance with a placement through a Homeless Persons Unit (HPU), followed by residing in temporary housing or staying with friends or family. The data revealed that those who had been sleeping rough before they were convicted had disengaged with the service; the report therefore suggested St Mungo’s could consider how a service for those who had been ‘rough sleepers’ could be further developed. Evidence indicated just how complex and demanding it is for a service such as St Mungo’s to access accommodation for its users. Many housing needs arose from the inability to retain a tenancy, resulting in the number of those in temporary accommodation upon release from prison considerably higher than the number of those in temporary accommodation beforeimprisonment.
The interviewing process noted the importance of continued ‘beyond the gate’ support as a significant attribute of a successful service, and it was clear that vital to most women was the assistance they received in helping to care for their families upon release from prison. Whilst palpable throughout the interviews with service users was the appreciation for the tireless perseverance and hard work of the St Mungo’s staff, women frequently expressed a bleak and negative view of housing and the growing number of shortages caused by significant external barriers outside of the organisation’s control. The research recognises that much of the housing instability is perpetuated and exacerbated through the implementation of short term, repetitive prison sentences, and the practice of ‘recycling’ convicted women through the prison system is resulting in the social punishment of not only the women themselves, but their families as well.
Williams, K., Poyser, J. and Hopkins, K. (2012), Accommodation, homelessness and reoffending of prisoners: Results from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SCPR) survey, Research Summary, 3/12, London: Ministry of Justice.
In the first few hours and days immediately after release and in the weeks and months ahead, Certitude helps people leaving prison to find somewhere to live and also provide advice on benefits and offer emotional support. They can also support people to access health and social services. Based in Balham, they support people from 14 prisons across London and the South East and people who are returning from prison to one of the 33 London boroughs.
Caring for Ex-Offenders (CFEO) is an organisation geared towards easing the transition from prison life into the community for those who serving custodial sentences. This is achieved primarily through co-ordinating a link between the individual coming out of prison, and their local church, which aims to better assist successful resettlement. CFEO train a team in a church near to where the individual is due to be relocated, who will mentor and support them at various stages. A relationship between the mentor and the individual is established whilst the individual is still inside prison, with the mentor then meeting them at the gate upon release and accompanying them to initial appointments and assist them in obtain basic needs, such as housing, employment, education, recovery from addictions, financial advice and relationships. With the prospect of reintegration into the community a daunting challenge for someone upon release from prison, the friendship, advice and support offered by a CFEO team makes the chances of successful transition much higher, and, in turn, reduces the likelihood of reoffending.
If you would like to find out more about Caring for Ex-Offenders then please visit www.caringforexoffenders.org/
Second Step work to provide different types of housing for people with mental health issues who require assistance in order to live independently. Importantly, they ensure that all help provided is unique and tailored to the specific needs of the individual. Working within the south west region, Second Step aim to deliver recovery and well-being opportunities for people with mental health issues, as well as a variety of other needs, to achieve their hopes and ambitions. In addition, Second Step also run a Rough Sleepers Initiative, a move-on scheme for people with mental health needs and a history of sleeping rough, and Intensive Tenancy Support, for those who are finding it difficult to cope with tenancy and are at risk of losing their home as a result. These sources of assistance, amongst a myriad of other holistic services provided by Second Step, provide the vital avenues of support needed by those who are particularly vulnerable and as a result, are more likely to be without a home.
Second Step are based in the areas of Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset. You can find out more about the different kinds of work that is done at Second Step by visiting their website www.second-step.co.uk
Based in south London, Spires is a charity that helps hundreds of homeless and disadvantaged people throughout the year. It aims to improve the quality of life for people who are homeless, insecurely housed, unemployed or suffering from the effects of poverty, mental illness and loneliness.
In addition to health services, Spires also offers learning opportunities with art and crafts, computer training, literacy, ESOL and E-music.
For more than 50 years, the Fry Housing Trust has provided supported accommodation and floating support services to the homeless and vulnerable who been sanctioned, or at risk of sanction, by the criminal justice system. The Trust works across the West Midlands, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
Help with the following is offered:
- Budgeting money, claiming benefits and managing debt
- Finding independent accommodation
- Setting up a home, new utility accounts and payment plans
- Assisting with organising grants for furniture or collection arrangements of donated items when available
- Independent living skills and cooking skills
With centres in Keighly and Bradford, Keyhouse works to address housing issues for the most socially excluded. They work with homeless families, young people and teenage parents.
It is not only advice on housing that is offered, Keyhouse was part of the setting up an allotment project. Working with service users, they provided plants for the silver medal winning homelessness garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, and they also work with a range of organisations to provide expertise on growing fruit and vegetables.
As well as a project for learning new skills, they are now planning to help service users apply their new found horticultural knowledge to produce cheap and healthy food for their own dinner tables.
Vulnerable women from all ethnic backgrounds are offered support by the Asha Centre. Originally providing services to women sanctioned by the criminal justice system, several years ago the remit widenned and the centre now offers support to women from different backgrounds and cultures around the county.
Women in contact with Asha are affected by multiple disadvantages. They are socially excluded, considered 'hard to reach' and do not engage with main stream services. The most common problems are isolation, lack of confidence, depression, mental health, domestic violence and abuse, housing issues, lone parenthood, substance misuse, lack of family support, financial problems and reliance on benefits
Referrals come from different sources: mental health professionals, the Probation Service, prisons, housing providers, substance misuse agencies and other local community agencies.
Asha offers a range of resources and interventions for educational and employment opportunities which engage women and support them to rebuild their lives.