Pilot which offers homes to short-term prisoners extended



Margaret Burgess
Margaret Burgess

A pilot project which reduces reoffending and supports around 750 prisoners and ex-offenders every year will be extended to March 2017 thanks to an additional £200,000 funding from the Scottish Government.

The Low Moss Public Social Partnership is a project jointly designed and delivered by the public and third sectors which helps short-term prisoners access suitable housing, apply for jobs and increase their qualifications. It works to improve relationships with their families and communities, supporting them in prison and helping them to feel settled and adapt to life once they leave prison.

Results from the first year of the pilot project in 2013/14, found that of the 201 prisoners released, only 30 had returned to custody by 2014. Half of the service users reported their living situation and psychological wellbeing had improved through the project, while one man who had not been out of custody for longer than six weeks in 17 years has now spent the last 18 months in the community.

Prisoners referred to the third sector project are allocated a keyworker who will create a personal care plan for them, working with them for the duration of the sentence, and up to a year after they leave, to make sure they get access to the right services at the right time.

This latest investment in Low Moss PSP brings the total support from the Scottish Government’s third sector budget to more than £634,000 between 2012 and 2017. The project is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Robertson Trust. The Scottish Government also provides support and guidance to the PSP through the Scottish Government’s ‘Developing Markets for Third Sector Providers’ programme, delivered by Ready for Business.

The most important element of this service is that it focuses on the needs of the individual and brings together a range of partner organisations to address those needs.

Welcoming the work of the third sector PSP, housing and welfare minister Margaret Burgess, said: “Tackling inequalities and transforming lives is at the heart of our third sector, which is why investing £200,000 to ensure this pilot is extended will make a massive difference to the individual lives of prisoners.

“Before the PSP some of these prisoners were in and out of prison on a regular basis and were not getting support to find a house, a job or do anything constructive with their time. However this scheme aims to change that and support offenders by getting them the advice they need on issues like housing, and also helping to improve their qualifications and employment prospects.

“It is helping to reduce reoffending and motivating people to take a more positive path in life once they leave prison. The encouraging results from the interim evaluation shows the effectiveness of the work and demonstrates there will be a further positive impact on wider communities by contributing to a more equal, safer and stronger Scotland.”

Turning Point Scotland’s chief executive, Martin Cawley, said: “We are delighted to have received further financial support from the Scottish Government for our work at Low Moss. We would like to thank the Scottish Government for their ongoing support which makes a significant difference to reducing offending and ultimately turn the lives round of the people we support.

“This provides a steady platform to focus on the future sustainability of the service, so that it continues to meet the needs of the people it supports to address the underlying issues which contribute to their offending behaviour.”