Change Grow Live – health and social care charity

HMP Holme House: supporting prisoners on release

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HMP Holme House: supporting prisoners on release

3 October 2018

The drug recovery prison (DRP) at HMP Holme House has four priority areas, one of which is continuity of care. It’s about connecting the men back into their home areas, giving them a more positive through the gate experience. Research suggests that one of the biggest gaps has been the lack of support offered to people getting released from prison to help them positively re-engage back into their community.

The Connecting Communities DART are commissioned to work with the men who have identified a drug or alcohol problem and are, or have been, on DART case load and are also being released into the north east area. We have developed a collaborative approach, working alongside a lot of other agencies and stakeholders both in the prison and the community to try and provide a more streamlined service.

How the service works

While the men are still in HMP Holme House, we offer our support up to 12 weeks before they are released. Working in a strengths based approach, we identify, together, the support them and their family may need upon release. We look at what’s strong, not what’s wrong.

We have five connecting community coordinators, who lead on an assigned area in the North East. This allows them to map out the services available and create a portfolio for the men to access services to aid their ongoing recovery. This has included commissioned services, but also things like clothing, food banks, bank accounts, benefits and individual asset based interests.

We advocate on behalf of the men around any areas of concern; attending probation appointments, mutual aid groups and initial drug and alcohol appointments. We continue to support them by carrying out welfare checks and go with them to see family members for the first time. It’s a person-centred package looking at what they need, what anxieties they might have and how we can support them to empower change.

It’s not as simple as just leaving prison and attending an appointment in a service. These men need so much more support, some of them might have been in prison for 10 years. Anxiety levels are very high when first released, having someone to support them in this journey may be the difference in them falling off the cliff or continuing in their recovery.  

Why is the service so valuable?

Feedback received from the men has been positive, they’re saying “why has this not been here before?” and “If you hadn’t supported me on release, I would’ve just gone to the supermarket and got drunk, or re-offended.” There are no other services like this in the north east.

This is what can be expected from one man, on one day, without access to any transport: get out of prison, go to the doctor, go to a drug and alcohol appointment, probation appointment, go to a hostel or present as homeless, get benefits sorted, get a bank account. It’s so much. We can support with this.

We look at everything the men need. We’ve even provided clothing for some of the men, we did a Facebook post asking for donations and ended up with 25 bin liners of clothing!