Prison unit to help leavers find homes

A housing service has been set up at Manchester prison to help
prisoners find accommodation when they are released.

The Manchester Prison Housing Link Group is focusing on
prisoners serving less than one year as they do not have access to
probation officers when released.

The group supplies a project worker who is based in a cell in
one of the wings at the prison. Help on offer includes finding
temporary accommodation and possible placements within the
association’s supported housing projects.

The project, set up by English Churches Housing Group, has found
that 70 per cent of clients have no stable accommodation and were
likely to be homeless on discharge. A similar proportion were also
vulnerable because of a range of support needs such as drugs and
mental health.

Rachael Byrne, ECHG regional services manager, said: “We can’t
stress enough the importance of having a stable home as a key to
ensuring that prisoners don’t re-offend.”

ECHG set up the project after noticing that a large number of
homeless clients at its rough-sleepers’ unit in Manchester were
former short-term prisoners, who had no access to probation

A six-month pilot was funded by the probation service. One
caseworker is now funded by the prison and it hopes a second will
be paid for by the government’s homelessness directorate.

Clare Fuller, a senior probation officer based at the prison,
said: “One of the most positive things to emerge from this project
is the appointment of specific workers within the prison. We
recognise that accommodation support is best done in partnership
with other agencies.”

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