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Leaving prison

If you are about to be or have recently been released from prison, find out about services that could provide practical support and help you find accommodation.   

I am about to leave prison and need housing 

Given the demand for housing in London it’s very difficult to find affordable housing on release from prison. If you don’t have anywhere to live when you leave prison, you should start looking as soon as possible before your release date.  

You should make an appointment with your prison’s resettlement or housing department at the first opportunity.  

If you’re serving 12 months or less, most prisons have a housing advice and resettlement service called Through the Gate who can help you settle back to life in the community. This can include support to find housing. Find out more information about Through the Gate service.  

 

A resettlement worker in prison can help you with things like:  

  • referrals to suitable accommodation if you'll be homeless on release 

  • dealing with a housing benefit claim while you're in prison 

  • claiming universal credit on release 

  • rent arrears or eviction  

If you are serving 12 months or more and released on licence, your probation officer can help you find accommodation, as long as you have spent a continuous period of at least twelve months in custody.  

Nacro’s resettlement advice service can advise you on your housing options when leaving prison: 0800 0181 259.

You can also use our Housing Options Finder tool to see what other options may be available to you - the sooner you know about your options, the sooner you can take the right action for you. 

Can I get help  with housing if I am on bail or have a home detention curfew? 

If you are a low risk adult prisoner and eligible for release on bail or home detention curfew, but don't have suitable accommodation to go to, you may be able to get help with supported accommodation through the Nacro’s BASS (Bail Accommodation and Support Scheme).   

Nacro BASS is a service covering England and Wales that gives people who are eligible to be released from prison and do not have a suitable address somewhere stable to live and the support they need to move on.  

People live in a mix of one-bed self-contained units and two, three and four-bed shared houses with communal living space, kitchen and bathroom. Families can be accommodated where needed. Nacro Support Officers undertake regular visits to provide mandatory support and to monitor adherence to bail conditions and any licence requirements. They can also  help you to find stable accommodation to move on to and offer support with employment, managing money, health and wellbeing, substance misuse and relationship building, if necessary.  

Find out more about Nacro Bass

I have been released and have nowhere to live? 

You may need to use emergency accommodation such as a hostel, night shelter or bed and breakfast. Hostels provide temporary accommodation. Some are direct access, which means you don't need a referral from an agency to use them.  

There are day centres that provide cheap hot meals, showers, laundry facilities and other practical help for people who need somewhere to go during the day. They may also be able to help you find housing. Please contact the Housing Options service for advice on locating the day centres in Tower Hamlets.  

Search Homeless.org to find hostels, emergency and longer term accommodation and day centres in your area.  

 

You can also use our Housing Options Finder tool to see what other options may be available to you - the sooner you know about your options, the sooner you can take the right action for you.  

Help from the council to prevent or relieve homelessness 

If you are homeless or due to be homeless in the next 56 days, the Council may have a legal duty to prevent or relieve your  homelessness - please be aware this does not mean the Council will offer you housing.  You can also find out more about your rights

There may be restrictions placed on where you can live. For example, if an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) says you can't go to a particular area, you may need to seek help from a different council. 

Time spent in prison in a specific area does not give you a local connection with the area where the prison is located. However, if you have no local connection with any area or if you are fleeing domestic violence, you can apply to any council in any area. The council you apply to has to help you. You can establish a local connection, for example, by living, working, or having immediate family (usually a parent or brother or sister) in the area. 

High risk prisoners managed by a multi agency public protection arrangement (MAPPA) may be required to live in certain areas. 

In some circumstances, the council might decide if you are homeless that we need to provide you with accommodation because of having a priority need resulting from your time in custody. The council will look at: 

• the length of time you spent in prison 

• if any third party support is being provided to you either by the probation service, a youth offending team, or drug and alcohol team 

• evidence provided by any third party (including any housing needs assessment) about your homelessness vulnerability  

• the period of time since your release from prison and how successful you have been in finding your own accommodation and in keeping that accommodation 

• any third party support networks such as family, friends or a probation officer 

• evidence of any other vulnerability such as mental health problems, drug or alcohol misuse, or a history of having been in care 

Use our Housing Options Finder tool to see what other options may be available to you - the sooner you know about your options, the sooner you can take the right action for you. 

Help with money before you are released from prison 

All prisoners are given a discharge grant paid for by the prison when they leave. This is money to help with your costs until your benefits are sorted out. If a prison housing adviser has found you accommodation for your first night, you may be given a higher discharge grant (about an extra £50), which is paid directly to the accommodation provider. 

You may be able to prepare for your release when you are in prison by saving some of your prison wages. You could consider opening a credit union account when you are in prison. Ask at the prison for details. 

Further advice and support 

The following organisations may be able to provide advice and information with your housing options on leaving prison:  

For Public Bodies – Duty to Refer  

The Homelessness Reduction Act provides an opportunity to work more closely with partners in notifying us of people who are at homeless or at risk of homelessness.  The Duty to refer came in to force on 1st October 2018. The agencies that have this statutory duty include prisons, youth offender institutions, secure training centres, secure colleges, youth offending teams, probation services, including community rehabilitation companies. Find out more information on the Duty to Refer.