Working with People Leaving Prison

Working together

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Other agencies find Community Chaplaincy useful too:

“I have worked closely over the years with Ian Cockram with regard to the welfare of some of the prisoners that I supervise. It has been very useful to me and to other members of the OMU team. He has a wide range of contacts in the community particularly with regard to resettlement issues. He has found suitable supported accommodation for a number of prisoners who have then moved on to permanent accommodation. He has also assisted where prisoners have left prison without a licence period where others avenues of help have not been forthcoming.    

He also supports prisoners while in custody and I have had a lot of positive feed back from them. It is an area of support that would not be provided by any other agency.”

Case studies

Alex

Alex, 24, is a young man with many different needs.  His family had done all they could to support him, but he was unable to control a serious drink problem. He was served with one ASBO after another and as a last resort the county judge remanded him to custody. When the Chaplain at HMP Exeter first met him he could see that Alex needed support.  He referred him to PI, and a Community Chaplain met with him and explained how PI could help.

drink issues

On the day he was released by the court, a Community Chaplain was there alongside Alex and his family, and to liaise with the Council’s solicitor, housing and ASBO officers.  Alex was assigned a mentor who supported him during the two weeks he spent in B&B accommodation.

PI managed to get him a place in a residential support centre where he could learn life skills and explore opportunities for future employment and training. Alex stayed out of trouble with the law for about five months but he still has difficulty in staying away from alcohol and has had a couple of ‘blips’ recently.  PI will continue to work with him to support him on his ongoing journey.

Sam

Sam is 20. When Sam left prison he initially resided at the bail hostel in Somerset, as required by Probation. There he was supported by a local Support Cluster with ongoing mentoring primarily from the Pastor of a church there.

Sam is keen to gain the necessary qualifications to work in the sport and leisure industry and went to the local YMCA with a view to using and volunteering with their gym. He also has the opportunity to help out at the local church which is undergoing refurbishment. He has been doing a Level 3 course in Health and Fitness at the local college but initially found it too challenging for his level of literacy.

Arrangements were put in place for support with his literacy to enable him to achieve the level required. He is very motivated and was permitted by Probation to find his own flat - he has now moved into his own accommodation on a long term lease.
Sam is now quite settled in the community but is aware that he can ask for more direct support if required at any stage.

Douglas

Douglas put in an application to see Ian because he had heard from other prisoners that he could provide housing.  Ian visited him in prison and chatted with him, explaining that it might take a little time to find suitable accommodation so Douglas told him in no uncertain terms that he was no good and not what he had expected!

Ian met up with him again after he had been transferred to another Devon prison and learned that prior to coming into prison he had been homeless for some considerable time living in a tent in the woods. Douglas apologised for being rude previously and Ian listened whilst he explained his fears. He had a drug dependency but could not get his medication without a permanent address. Douglas felt sure that if he had to go back to living in a tent again he would not survive.

Ian was able to make contact with a Church Pastor who had been involved in a soup kitchen that had helped Douglas in the past. He made representations to the Local Authority who eventually allocated a flat for Douglas.  Arrangements were made for the Pastor to collect him at the prison gate on the morning of his release and (with a little help) Douglas has been managing his tenancy at the flat very well. The next challenge is to find some form of employment!

Robert

Robert left prison following a recall from his probation licence. As a result he was due to be homeless on his discharge from prison and had no help or support organised for his return to the community. Having served his full sentence he has no probation or other agency able to work with him.

He met with the Community Chaplain on two occasions in Prison and as a result we were able to organise emergency accommodation through a local charity, a contact within the job centre organisation and a local volunteer link worker to work with him on his release.

Instead of being released with total uncertainty he was able to safely travel to his address where he met with the Community Chaplaincy team. He was taken to his accommodation and has continued to work with his local support since.

As a result he has started to work towards finding longer term suitable accommodation, although finding a deposit has proved challenging (especially as he is not on probation!), he has registered with the local health centre, has signed on and is having his benefit payments prioritised. He has an interview for a course at the local College and also has an interview for a job within the catering industry.

He has stated that he could not have achieved this without the help and support of the Chaplaincy team. He is thankful of the support and states if it hadn’t been for the work we have done with him he would have started by sleeping rough and may well have become caught up with those involved in drugs and crime. He is however free from this and feels confident of his future. He likes the fact that he is supported to achieve things for himself rather than having everything done for him.

Duncan

In his late fifties and never having been in prison before, Duncan was finding it hard to cope. As hard as the punishment was it was nothing to the shame he felt. On release and after a time in a hostel he would have to face his family and people in his village who could not understand why anyone, let alone him, would have committed the crime he had committed
After many conversations both in the chapel and in the workshop the Community Chaplain was able to introduce Duncan to one of our Community Link Workers who visited him at the bail hostel immediately after his release. These visits continued and our Link Worker has now forged close links with the hostel staff who are very appreciative of all Community Chaplaincy is doing for Duncan.
Recently Duncan has started to go to some support group meetings with our Link Worker where he is beginning to reconnect with society generally. Duncan and his wife are considering relocating to another area to make a fresh start. He feels so fortunate that his family are standing by him and is feeling a lot stronger in himself about settling down again.

Quotes

How does Community Chaplaincy help?  In lots of ways!  Here, people who have been supported by Peninsula Initiative Community Chaplaincy tell the story in their own words:

“This is the longest period I have ever been out of an institution since I was a teenager (I am 45 now).  Moreover for the first time in my life I am actually happy.  Everything is going so well for me.”

“Many thanks.  Everything is going so well.  I really have been given a second chance and I am really making the most of it.  Once again, many thanks.”

“I wanted to thank you for taking the time to visit.  It was well timed.”
“Talking to you at least I have some hope for the future.”

“Ian has found me a great church and lovely people and I couldn’t ask for a better start to my new life.  I am so grateful for all the help Ian has done for me.  With his help and guidance my life has been saved and I am so grateful for all the love and care from all who have helped.”

“Thank you, (not only for agreeing to write a letter to my solicitor for me), but to also ‘thank you’ for all of the help you have given me throughout my life . . . I know that sometimes I can be difficult, and set in my ways … but, I have always appreciated your help and kindness along with the hard work and time that you have given me.  “Thank you, very much.

“I’d be lost without [Community Chaplaincy].  It's not a cruise ship, it's a battle ship.”

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