A second win at the Cymorth Cymru Promoting Independence awards ceremony in December saw Prison Link Cymru (PLC), a joint initiative operated by Shelter Cymru and Gwalia Care and Support, scoop the Showcase Award for Homelessness Prevention.
PLC delivers a national homelessness prevention service at the point of entry into custody which aims to reduce the number of prisoners losing their homes.
Funded by Welsh Government, the service is delivered in prisons in Cardiff, Swansea, Eastwood Park and Parc Bridgend which includes the Young Offenders Institution. An outreach service is available to Usk and Prescoed prisons. Following the introduction of the Housing (Wales) Act 2015 and the development of the National Pathway, PLC worked closely with prisoners, resettlement teams and local authorities to remodel the services to find creative solutions to meet urgent homelessness prevention needs. Staff are now able to respond swiftly as they work in the prisons alongside resettlement services on a daily basis.
Prison Advice Workers Andrew Stevens, Lowri Lawrence and Michelle Andrews were over the moon when they collected the award.
Area Manager, Craig Smith said: “Although the core focus of the service is to prevent homelessness, the knock-on effect is that people are reassured that personal possessions such as photos of loved ones, furniture and clothes will still be there on release. By liaising with landlords and service providers to retain accommodation, loss of possessions has been avoided for 944 people out of the 1066 referred in the first year. This reduces stress and anxiety, meaning they can rebuild their lives following release without having lost everything.”
Where it wasn’t able to retain accommodation, the service was able to provide help to source accommodation in the early stages prior to release from custody.