Ex-Cell provides resettlement and support services for homeless short term ex prisoners returning to Manchester, in the context of paid work and paid work placements for a period of up to 30 months; working towards:
“A guaranteed home and a guaranteed job, immediately on release”
HOW DOES THE PROGRAMME WORK?
Each beneficiary who is a short-term prisoner is allocated a volunteer “befriender” at pre-release stage. “Persistent Prolific Offenders” (PPOs) are also accommodated on the programme and they are allocated a befriender at pre-referral stage. The befriender is a volunteer recruited and trained either through the Greater Manchester Community Chaplaincy or the Quality Living Scheme and works with the beneficiary to draw up an initial six month Action Plan.
The Action Plan comprises three elements:-
Sustainable Accommodation: suitable accommodation and the befriender’s support required to sustain it.
Sustainable Employment: suitable mainstream employment or more supportive six month paid work placement, longer-term employment prospects and the befriender’s support required to sustain it
Overcoming barriers: overcoming barriers to achieving the above e.g. drugs/alcohol issues, mental health issues.
Employment and Paid Work Placements
Mainstream employment is accessed through appropriate employment agencies. Programme partners Aspire also provide paid work placements and directly employ programme beneficiaries. Aspire offer job search support and complement the work of the befriender in supporting beneficiaries to sustain their paid work placement and then to move on to mainstream employment. Paid work placements are available in terms of “in house”, more supportive placements and “external” placements with mainstream employers.
Arrangements are in place to access accommodation for beneficiaries through the City Council’s Letwise Plus housing support programme. Discussions are taking place with other social landlords to provide a similar service with the befriender providing support to enable the new tenant to keep to the terms of the tenancy. In this context rent direct options are also available.
Progression and Advancement
The two key outputs at the six
month stage are
· Sustainable accommodation
· Movement towards sustainable mainstream employment
At this point a Post Programme Action Plan (for up to 24 months) is drawn up in order to reinforce these outputs and to develop an “advancement strategy” with each beneficiary who will continue to be supported by the befriender during the post programme period.
The rationale behind this post programme support is to avoid a situation where support and provision simply stops after six months, no matter how far beneficiaries have or have not progressed.
Ongoing support is individually tailored to the needs of each individual beneficiary. Some will have attained sustainable employment by the six-month stage and may simply need ongoing support in looking at how to advance further in their new working lives. Others will require more intensive ongoing support – in some cases including extended paid work placements.
But in all cases tailored support will be available for up to a further 24 months after completion of the six-month programme.