At Nacro we provide homes and housing related support to people, often with complex needs, giving them the stability and support they need to acquire new skills and patterns of behaviour and to turn their lives around. We also help people to identify and access appropriate move-on accommodation and offer resettlement advice to offenders, their families and practitioners through our national helpline.
Nacro provides housing services in many different types of communities across England and Wales. Our services also work with many different types of individuals: single people, vulnerable women, young people, offenders and those at risk of offending, to name but a few. Many people will have more than one need (e.g. they might be dependent on drugs as well as being homeless) and unless these issues are dealt with, they are unlikely to achieve sustainable and successful transformation in their lives. So at Nacro we do more than just house: we provide support, we teach, we advise, we challenge behaviour, and we connect people with any additional support they need to tackle other issues in their lives.
We equip each individual with the skills, attitude and self-belief they need to go on to live a successful independent life in their community. We encourage those using our services to think and act for themselves, and we offer a range of effective activities and training designed to develop an individual’s skills and self-confidence. We offer many opportunities for service user involvement, including the chance to train as a peer mentor, become a member of Nacro’s Service User Council or act as a tenant representative. We’re also developing housing products designed to give our residents a stake in a long-term stable home. But most importantly, we encourage people to engage with their own community, so that they not only build confidence in themselves but also in the environment in which they will live, and ultimately contribute to, in the future – all part of our commitment to transforming people’s lives and to transforming outcomes for communities.
At Nacro, we understand the importance of stable accommodation in helping offenders to move on from crime. Nacro is a registered provider with substantial experience of providing supported housing and resettlement services to offenders direct from prison, those on community sentences, and those at risk of offending.
We work closely with commissioners, private landlords, housing departments and registered social landlords who, like us, understand the importance of good quality accommodation in helping an offender to move away from crime.
We also understand risk management and work with partner agencies, including criminal justice services, to ensure any risk posed by an individual is managed appropriately so they can move on into independent accommodation.
At Nacro we know that giving someone a roof over their head is only half the story. So we work with them to help bring about lasting change. We help them understand their tenancy and their rights and responsibilities. We challenge attitudes and steer them away from criminal behaviour. We connect them with appropriate services where they need extra support. We advise them how to claim the right benefits to ensure that service charges are paid and rent arrears don’t accrue. In short, we give people the skills and support they need to hold down a tenancy and avoid the problems that can lead to reoffending.
Nacro’s Housing Resettlement Service
The service offers good quality housing to people who may find it difficult to access social housing because of long waiting lists, poor housing history, affordability and their background. We offer shorthold tenancies for a minimum of six months to those leaving prison, ex offenders who are ready to move on from short-stay supported housing and individuals who without appropriate housing support would be at risk of reoffending. We provide accommodation for up to two years with an intensive housing management service to help service users maintain their tenancy. Referrals are accepted from the housing options team, probation, police, drug interventions programmes and other agencies, including supported housing providers who will help identify suitable applicants. Our referral and allocation process help us to assess the most suitable to allocate a property.
The service delivers successful outcomes for everyone concerned by giving offenders the skills and support they need to live independently, helping them to address their offending behaviour, working with community safety partnerships to reduce crime in the local area, and helping commissioners to meet their objectives particularly in relation to strategic housing plans, homelessness strategies and crime reduction plans.
The Housing Resettlement Service in North Lincolnshire is a good example of this, housing offenders (whether those direct from prison, those on probation licence, those within integrated offender management supervision, those from approved premises or those who are homeless and sleeping on the street) or those at risk of offending. Since the project has been in operation in this area, none of the tenants have reoffended, there has been no evidence of drug use in any of the properties and no drug warning letters have been issued to any tenants. This is an excellent result, given that many of the tenants have a history of substance misuse and are on treatment programmes. Indeed since being at Nacro, one tenant has made such good progress – becoming drug free and ceasing his methadone prescription – that he has been downgraded from gold to bronze in his integrated offender management rating. This is the longest that he has stayed out of prison – something which he says is 100% down to the stability of his housing. Such results are of course also down to effective and collaborative working, with the Nacro project worker in this instance working closely with the integrated offender management team.
The service in North Lincolnshire is popular all round, with those using the service saying they are pleased with the standard of accommodation and very grateful for the opportunity to be housed in this type of accommodation and to receive the support they do, whilst probation staff report being happy with the service and with the relationship that has developed with Nacro. In addition, the DIP team say they are pleased that Nacro understands their clientele and are willing to help them to provide accommodation for their service users.
Other aspects of resettlement
Resettlement is a complex area that has many strands, all of which interconnect. Upon release from custody, in addition to having nowhere to live, a person may be faced with:
- rejection from family and friends
- no money (other than the money they are given upon release from custody, if applicable)
- no job and no real prospect of immediate employment due to their offending
- substance misuse issues and a strong possibility of relapse at the very early stages
- no education or they have been educated in prison but are unsure how to take this forward
- no direction on what to do next and no one to offer that guidance
In order to ensure that an individual can move on, they need support and guidance with all of these underlying risk factors in order to achieve a positive outcome. Supporting people to write applications for education and training as well as guiding them on their career paths and offering them an insight into opportunities and what their offending background may mean for their future is integral to successful resettlement following custody and to making a success of their lives.
Resettlement Advice Service
Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service is a flagship operation, which provides a reliable, high quality and expert service in the following areas:
- A national confidential helpline service for individuals and their family and friends who are affected by a criminal record.
- A dedicated expert service for employers and other organisations.
- Advice and guidance delivered via telephone, face to face, online or in writing.
- Online information.
- Training and consultancy services.
- An advocacy service for those who face discrimination due to their criminal record or in relation to allegations that have been made against them.
- Personalised resettlement research – for example our service in Kent provides expert advice and support to offenders in securing or retaining suitable long-term accommodation (either supported accommodation or private sector housing).
- Publications and other commercial products, including policy briefings that contributes to the shaping and influencing of government policy.
Resettlement support in custody
Our resettlement support in custody includes the following:
- A dedicated free phone helpline for people in custody which enables them to ring us for advice and support in relation to any resettlement needs they may have prior to their release.
- Service users can call (or write to) us for expert advice and support in relation to accessing housing upon release, particularly if they face being released to ‘no fixed abode’. We can also support them in making an emergency notification to the council where they have a local connection.
- Expert advice and support provided to service users in relation to addressing rent arrears and making arrangements with debtors, where applicable.
- Expert advice and support provided to service users in relation to applying for education or training courses upon release.
- Signposting service users to other services that may be able to help them such as substance misuse programmes or volunteering opportunities. Our resettlement advisers are happy to conduct research on behalf of a service user and our Resettlement Service Finder national database can be searched to locate vital local services that fulfil a service user’s requirements.
- Expert advice, support and training to young people in custody in terms of addressing many of the key barriers to their effective resettlement, including: how to disclose convictions when applying for education, employment or training; top tips on how to obtain and keep a tenancy; and how to manage money.
- Our advocacy service provides expert support for young people who face discrimination when applying to college, training courses or employment. We have achieved great success in this area based on our many years’ experience of providing support to organisations in managing risk. The Disclosure and Barring Service sends members of the public and organisations to our service for support in managing criminal record issues.
- We can also provide support to young people to obtain work placements and employment through our wide network of contacts.
Support for organisations
Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service also provides a valuable service to organisations, employers, professionals and other stakeholders, equipping them with the knowledge they need to achieve their objectives.
These services include:
- Expert advice, advocacy and training for employment, education or accommodation support advisers – We provide specialist helpline and online advice, support and also training to professionals who are working with people with convictions in order to place them in sustainable education, employment, training or housing. We have a successful track record of working with support staff both in custody and the community.
- Training, consultancy and operational advice for employers and other organisations – We provide free expert helpline and online advice and support to organisations when they recruit or admit applicants with criminal records or when they have had allegations made against them. We also deliver seminars and workshops (often in partnership with other organisations) to an extremely diverse range of clients including local authorities and councils, colleges, probation trusts, programme providers, housing associations and leading global law firms.
- The Resettlement Service Finder database – Nacro’s unique national resettlement services database is designed to help professionals (and family and friends) locate suitable housing, education and employment support and other vital resettlement services required to support people who are leaving custody or are under the supervision of the Probation Service or Youth Offending Service.
- Guidance and publications – We write and design practical guides for people with convictions, including prisoners and offenders on licence. We also produce guides for practitioners who work with people with convictions and for organisations on safe and fair recruitment. Examples include guidance on disclosing convictions, recruiting safely, managing your money and our Pocket Planner which is produced annually.
- Policy and campaigns – we draft policy briefings, responses to government consultations, and attend and contribute to relevant expert panels (such as Sunita Mason’s review of the criminal record regime). We also get involved in campaigns, including those which aim to reduce the barriers ex-offenders face when seeking to move their lives forward and put their criminal past behind them, such as Ban the Box and Wipe the Slate Clean. Our Change the Record campaign successfully lobbied for reform of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which has resulted in changes being made to the law which significantly reduce the periods of time during which a person has to disclose an ‘unspent’ caution or conviction when applying for education, training, housing, insurance or employment, thus enabling them to move their life forward in a positive direction and leave their criminal past behind them within a more proportionate timeframe.