Each of the sessions covered a lot of ground and were very wide ranging in both content and aspirations. We are looking forward to developing our ongoing relationship with Shelter Scotland and to look at the opportunities it presents to help improve the system as it currently stands…
We recently met with a team from Shelter Scotland to discuss the importance of housing within justice. The Shelter team included an Assistant Director and the wonderfully titled Grants and Philanthropy Manager, as well as four others…
The aim of the initial meeting was to give us all an opportunity to talk about the client journey, services and service gaps through our own knowledge and experiences. This will hopefully give us some thoughts and ideas around what real co-produced services and initiatives could look like and give us a starting point for further development.
In terms of our strategic filter, working with Shelter is an excellent fit. Homelessness for people leaving custody, as well as for those facing incarceration, is a key issue. Shelter quoted the figure that around 6% of the homeless population in Scotland have had some very recent experience of the justice process. Accessing accommodation was the number one issue for the Governor at HMP Greenock when he was asked about throughcare. It is an issue that we encounter repeatedly when supporting people returning to the community.
In terms of tactical operations, both organisations are committed to improving the situation. Shelter have a number of projects that are currently up and running and part of the discussion centred on how we could help increase engagement with those inside and break down any potential barriers with the management of the SPS.
We broke off into three breakout sessions to explore the operational parameters of what might be formed. It was surprising how each of the groups came up with broadly similar ideas, approaches and potential barriers to the exercise.
We felt it would be highly beneficial if prisoners could trained in housing related matters to share this with fellow inmates. This would also cover the benefit situation when people are entering or leaving custody. There are a lot of myths and untruths that are peddled by well-meaning but ill-informed people. Training inmates, as well as key staff members, could help alleviate that problem. This training is also transferable back to the community when they leave custody. It could help increase their chance of employment.
Other proposals included a short term housing exchange system that would help keep accommodation for someone going into custody as well as providing some temporary accommodation for someone leaving custody. This model is already established in Norway and we will examine it further to see if it would be possible in Scotland.