On Tuesday, 6 February, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, met with representatives from Citizens Advice Cherwell and West Northants to find out how almost £8000 of funding from the PCC’s Community Fund will help to support a pilot connecting individuals leaving prison with support services.
Citizens Advice provide free, impartial advice on a wide range of issues including debt, benefits, housing and employment.
This specific intervention devised by Citizens Advice Cherwell and West Northants will provide in-person information and advice drop-in sessions to prisoners currently serving a sentence at Bullingdon Prison. The information will include support on housing and benefits as well as accessing resettlement services so that individuals have financial and practical support in place when released.
The pilot will target individuals who are planning to resettle in the Cherwell area upon release.
Support will also be extended to the family members of those engaged with the project to ensure that they also have access to any support they may need.
Matthew said: “Over half of the people released from prison in the Thames Valley reoffend within 12 months which is why initiatives like these are so important.
“My office is doing important work to try and improve that figure through the RESTART programme – a multi-partnership project that works to improve access to support, services, accommodation and work opportunities for individuals leaving Bullingdon Prison – but this initiative will be another strand of support that individuals can access.
“I am pleased to have supported the pilot with a £7960 grant from my Community Fund and I look forward to keeping in touch with Pat and the team to see its outcomes.”
Pat Coomber-Wood, CEO of Citizens Advice Cherwell and West Northants, said: “Through collaborative efforts like these, Citizens Advice extends a lifeline to those re-joining society after incarceration, as well as their families. This offers not just support, but hope and opportunity.”