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Monday, December 6, 2021

Northamptonshire charities asked to help prisoners freed to sleep rough


Probation officers have been writing to homelessness charities asking for tents and sleeping bags for prisoners released from jail on to the streets.

The BBC has received emails from employees requesting assistance because they have “nowhere to go.”

“Everyone says they believe in rehab, but in reality, I feel they don’t think I can change,” one rough sleeper said.

Since November 2020, West Northamptonshire Council has housed 21 prisoners on the day of their release.

According to one email, a woman was sleeping rough after being released from prison and needed a tent and sleeping bag until she could find permanent housing.

West Northamptonshire Council said it has housed 21 prisoners on the day of their release

Another inquired whether a charity could assist a “person on probation” who was about to be released from custody “as homeless.”

It stated that several inquiries had been made to assist the former prisoner in finding housing, but that he had “nowhere to go upon release.”

The unnamed rough sleeper said he ended up on the streets after being released from prison with no place to stay.

“You just feel vulnerable, and it’s so cold,” he explained.

“My fingernails have turned purple.”

Stan Robertson provides hot breakfasts to people on Northampton’s streets

The BBC contacted Stan Robertson, who runs the Northampton-based rough sleeper charity Project 16:15, but he refused to comment on the contents of private emails.

He did say, however, that the charity had dealt with at least six rough sleepers who had been released from prison and placed on the streets in the previous year.

“We are committed to ensuring that anyone on our streets has the necessary means to stay warm, dry, and fed,” he said.

The town council, which is in charge of housing and homelessness, stated that since October 2018, prison and probation staff have been required to refer those at risk of rough sleeping to them.

It claims to have a dedicated probation liaison officer who handles such cases prior to prison release and “identifies suitable housing solutions.”

As part of the town’s Homeless Assessment Rapid Resettlement Pathway (HARRP) scheme, which will be launched in November 2020, the authority collaborates with Keystage Housing to help rough sleepers into a 27-bedroom assessment hub.

Since its inception, Keystage has housed 21 prisoners into HARRP on the day of their release.

Adam Brown, Cabinet Member for Housing, stated that those leaving prison are “at an increased risk of ending up rough sleeping, which can lead to further offending.”

“With the help of the government, we’re attempting to break this cycle and give ex-offenders a better chance of improving their lives.”

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