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Justlife’s probation project for people leaving prison generates up to £1.96 of value for every £1 invested

  • 3 min read |
  • Posted by Justlife
  • On 04 March 2021

A cost benefit analysis undertaken by The Bright Ideas Partnershiphas found that Justlife’s Targeted Referrals Project generates between £1.49 and £1.96 of value for every £1 invested in the project.

The Targeted Referrals project works in partnership with North West Probation service to provide one-to-one support to people who have left prison and been placed in temporary accommodation in Manchester.

If I hadn’t been introduced to her [the Targeted Referrals Worker]…I certainly wouldn’t be in the house I am now, or where I’m at now. It’s been a big help.

Beneficiary feedback

Many leave prison without a home to move into and find themselves at a high risk of homelessness. A third of people say they have nowhere to go once they’re released from prison, and their history can make it even more challenging to secure a place to live from a private landlord. Left with very few options, they are placed in temporary accommodation and become hidden homeless.

The challenges of temporary accommodation

Temporary accommodation doesn’t offer many people leaving prison the security, stability and privacy needed to get their lives back on track. Some leave prison without the skills needed to live independently, which makes it difficult to transition to life outside of prison, increasing the risk of disengaging with rehabilitation and reoffending.

On top of this, the chaotic living environment found in some temporary accommodation can exacerbate the individual challenges people face in adjusting to day-to-day life, and hinder people’s progress. Sharing a living space with other vulnerable people who have their own complex needs can put those leaving prison at risk of dabbling in criminality again or experiencing a decline in their overall wellbeing.

Those who crave independence and privacy can find the communal nature of temporary accommodation challenging. With no place of their own and no choice over who they share their space with, it can be difficult to cohabit with other people and adjust to their noise, living habits and behaviour.

Without full-time support staff around to help, people leaving prison face the long journey of acclimatisation to a new way of living, and homelessness, on their own.

The solution

The Targeted Referrals project is all about creating a warm handover into and out of temporary accommodation. Support workers work in partnership with the client’s Offender Manager to address each person’s individual care needs and help them overcome any barriers to adjusting to life outside of prison. This could involve supporting them in:

  • Navigating the Universal Credit system
  • Budgeting and maintaining rent payments
  • Accessing mental health or substance misuse services
  • Finding longer-term housing
  • Building positive relationships with their landlords

Offender Managers are always kept in the loop regarding what work has been done with their client and if there are any concerns. We also collaborate with the Probation Housing Lead, who has connections with private rented properties, enabling support workers to reach those who are more difficult to house due to serious offences.

By building resilience and independence, the project aims to maximise people’s chances of moving away from homelessness, and minimise their chances of returning to prison.

Beneficiaries have full control over the extent to which they engage with their support worker. We are not there to enforce or dictate, and do everything we can to be flexible to every individual we work with.

All beneficiaries of this project have noted an improvement to their health, wellbeing, and independent living skills, and almost a third have been able to secure longer-term housing, but the benefits of this go beyond the individual and can actually save public money by reducing contact with the probation service, prisons and the Ministry of Justice.

I couldn't ever really put a price on that [the project’s support] because in my eyes there really isn't one...I could have paid another organisation thousands of pounds and not felt as welcome as you guys [the Justlife team] made me, and others like me, feel .... it was invaluable and much appreciated help at a time when we all needed it most, that's what really counts...and if I ever do come into serious money then I’ll be giving plenty of it to places like Justlife!

We’d like to thank the North West Probation service for working with a small partner like us to find a solution to an issue that affects hundreds of people leaving prison each year. This project wouldn’t have materialised without their willingness to listen and collaborate with us.