The Police and Crime Commissioner (PPC) for Norfolk, Giles Orpen-Smellie, recently visited St Martins’ Foundations project. As a project partner, Broadland provides high-quality properties and the Probation Service makes the referrals.
Foundations helps prison leavers to reintegrate back into Norfolk’s communities, reducing the likelihood they will reoffend or become homeless.
Supported housing for prison leavers
Foundation project workers make sure that everything is ready as soon as clients move in, including all white goods and furnishings. The properties are finished to a high standard, with crockery, bedding and other items purchased to make the house a home. It is a new experience for the clients to take pride in their home. This is the first time they have been valued enough to be trusted with a property and this empowers them to take control of their lives.
Built into the project is support from a health navigator who works alongside the clients to help them to attend appointments. Often long-term health conditions are masked by a chaotic lifestyle. Once a person becomes settled in their accommodation, it is not uncommon for health problems come to the fore so it is crucial that people are supported into getting the treatment they need.
Set up at the start of the pandemic, is part Foundations is part of wider project with Norwich City council to provide decent homes for people so they are no longer on the street.
Offending has reduced
Foundation statistics show that offending has reduced. The project has attracted national recognition and was highly commended in the Homeless Link ‘prevention into action’ awards 2021.
Data identified a ‘revolving door’ cohort of clients who bounced between prison, the streets, hostel accommodation and back to prison. These are people at a high risk of reoffending and becoming trapped in a cycle of homelessness. Complex issues might include past trauma, addiction and abuse. Their histories make them too risky and services are reluctant to engage with them.
Case study – Justin
Foundations client Justin is 37 and has been a prolific offender throughout his life. The St Martins team first met Justin when he was homeless in 2014, following the breakdown of an 18-year relationship with his partner. He left his family home and reverted back to offending behaviour that was instilled during his childhood, resulting in numerous small offences, usually to fund his drug use. For years, Justin bounced between hostels and short prison stays, with increasing paranoia and mental distress. This cycle was broken when Justin moved into a one-bedroom flat within the Foundations project. His illicit drug use appears to have stopped now he is on a maintenance prescription, and he is engaging positively with services. He budgets well, shops independently and his flat is clean and tidy. Whereas previously Justin lived from day to day – sometimes hour by hour – he now cares for his son, and has a long-term intention to get custody of him.
The Police and Crime Commissioner commended the Foundations project as:
a prime example of intuitive and formative thinking’
Foundations give people the potential to achieve a place in the community, whereas they were perceived as a burden to society before in terms of court costs, policing and community safety.