Resettlement opportunities for young people leaving custody may improve after the Youth Justice Board joined forces with the Foyer Federation to create greater access to housing and support.
The federation, in partnership with the YJB, is developing two integrated learning and accommodation centres, known as foyers, in the YJB’s North West and South West England resettlement consortia. These are groups of local authorities that work closely with young offender institutions to identify and meet resettlement needs.
YJB chair Frances Done said the new strategic partnership would help the board achieve more suitable accommodation for young people leaving custody.
She said: “The YJB is committed to improve the resettlement of young people and this partnership will help equip them with life skills and knowledge they need to contribute to society, build a positive future, and stay away from crime and antisocial behaviour.”
Colin Falconer, director of innovation at the Foyer Federation, said: “Over the next two years we will be working together to explore how foyers can help to reduce the number of young people involved in criminal behaviour and help them make the transition to an independent, crime-free, adulthood.”
The Foyer Federation works with housing association investors to provide safe, quality accommodation for hard-to-reach young people. It has helped about 10,000 vulnerable young people in 130 communities by supplying mentoring services, arranging family reconciliation services and offering resettlement support.
Geoff Dobson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “It is welcome that the Youth Justice Board is recognising the importance of addressing the housing needs of young offenders in its partnership with the Foyer Federation.
“About 40% of children in custody in England and Wales have been homeless. Drug and alcohol abuse are also major problems among young people in prison, with more than half of prisoners aged 16-20 reporting a dependence on a drug in the year prior to imprisonment.
“When it comes to reducing reoffending, treatment for addicts, mental healthcare and sorting out housing and employment, all work better than a prison sentence.”