Twenty who have been released are in their own flats or houses, and we keep in touch with a weekly text and love to receive their positive replies.
Twelve are in Hostels or sheltered accommodation and need more support as some have been in prison for up to 40 years and the outside world is lonely and tough, they need regular communication and visits, but lack of funds means this doesn’t happen as often as they (or New Beginnings) would like. We try to visit them twice a year, but they are spread around the country from Leeds in the North to Portsmouth in the South. Merthyr Tydfill in Mid Wales to Maidstone and Boston in the East and with our funding shortage, we cannot always fulfil this, and the men get very disappointed. We send them all a text each Sunday morning and wait to see what they may need for the coming week which we then try to fulfil.
When prisoners are due to be released, we meet them ‘at the gate’ take them to their Hostels or homes, provide them with toiletries, a simple mobile phone and £10 top up, clothes and footwear from the local Charity Shops, a food shop and any other items they may require. This can be quite a costly exercise.
Initially they need a lot of support for filling out forms and Peter helps them find their way around Universal Credit requirements, we attend Probation meetings and try to help them find various Groups to attend like Alcoholics Anonymous. Some like us to help them find a Church and put Safeguarding in place, so initially we need to visit them frequently and phone them often.
We do all we can to encourage our lads, who are battling against all odds, trying to fill their day constructively, missing all their ‘mates’ that were ‘inside’, struggling with loneliness, trying to re-connect with their families, frightened to put a foot wrong, constantly looking over their shoulders, our aim is to ensure we support them so that they NEVER re-offend again and so far we have had 100% success!