Tag Archives: Charity

The Bounce Back Project – No Going Back

No Going Back is an innovative pilot programme to break the cycle of reoffending.

Developed in partnership with the Livery Companies (see below) it will be delivered by the charity, Bounce Back who have 10 years’ experience of working with people in prisons and the community by providing training in construction and related skills and supporting them into sustainable employment.  https://www.bouncebackproject.com/

The remit is jobs in construction, the built environment and facilities management and we will be matching candidates to vacancies provided through the Livery Companies based on participants skills and interests.

No Going Back has astrong focus on housing and community integration. 

Alongside a tailored approach to training and intensive case management support, accommodation will be offered to those who do not have a suitable place to live – a unique aspect of this programme.  In addition, the project will support employers to recognise and maximise the economic benefits that come from recruiting this way to fill their vacancies.

The ambition is to demonstrate impact and swiftly scale the approach.

We are looking for housing partners so we can complete the final element of the programme.  The expectation is that, based on Government figures, 1 in 7 are likely to be leaving prison without housing.  With a target of assisting 40 people into employment during the pilot programme, we estimate that we will need no more than 10 units of housing during the coming year.

We currently only work in men’s prisons, mostly in London, including Brixton, Pentonville, Wandsworth and Isis and are about to start working in Coldingley prison in Surrey.  Most of our participants are single men of all age ranges who would require bedsit or one bed accommodation. We are very open to discussing referral pathways and assessment processes which meet the needs of individual housing providers. 

Our Engagement Managers, one of whom is a housing and resettlement specialist will work closely with housing providers to identify suitable participants who need housing and who are able to access the employment market. The expectation is that the participants will have relatively low support needs. They will continue to receive regular support from their Engagement Manager as well as any other agencies identified to meet a participant’s needs.  The Engagement Manager will stay with the participant on this journey and be available to respond to any issues which may arise regarding their housing, mental or physical health etc. This will include liaison with landlords.

 We are looking to work in genuine partnership with housing providers to better understand the housing landscape and how best to meet the needs of our participants. This will be a key aspect of the independent evaluation which is being conducted by Russell Webster, a leading authority on the Criminal Justice Sector and the prisons are hugely enthusiastic for this to go ahead. Everything will be done to prevent people returning to prison. 

Clearly Covidi9 has had significant impact on the way that the programme is going to be delivered – the prisons are still locked down, prisoner engagement is a challenge and the entire employment landscape has changed considerably.  However, both Bounce Back and the Livery Companies are determined that this programme can offer hope and opportunity to prison leavers.  To this end we are launching on 1 July, and will be exploring new and exciting ways to navigate the system to achieve success. 

We are breaking completely new ground and all parties, including the prisons, are ‘learning on the job’ to respond to this unique situation. 

We would be very happy to discuss the programme in more detail and explore how we can work in partnership to make this project a success which can then be scaled and replicated nationally. Our Project Leader is Paulette Howard Jackson who can be contacted on paulette@bouncebackproject.com and our Interim CEO is Frances Mapstone frances@bouncebackproject.com

*Note:  What are the Livery Companies? Livery Companies have a strong tradition of philanthropic giving.  As the original City of London ‘Guilds’ they are now at the heart of the business world in the City of London and include Haberdasher’s and Goldsmiths.  They give charities over £60m p.a. and have for some time provided funding specifically to enable offenders’ rehabilitation.  In the context of No Going Back, the Livery Companies are keen to broaden understanding with a wider audience including prisoners, housing partners, local authorities and the Corporates that will be engaged on the programme.  A number of people have never encountered the Livery and they hope to change this though this programme.

Get involved

Bounce Back Project

HARP’s White Heather House – Women’s Only Hostel

Jackie Bliss, Chief Executive at HARP, Southend’s Homelessness Charity, reflects on the opening of their Women’s Only Hostel.

It is no secret that homelessness is on the rise.  Although HARP – the leading homelessness charity in Southend-on-Sea, Essex – has seen a reduction in long-term rough sleepers on our streets in recent years, the demand for our services continues to rise as more and more people find themselves facing homelessness.

Until the introduction of our women’s hostel just last year, HARP was providing accommodation for over 150 people every night – people that might otherwise be on the streets .  Now, we are able to accommodate up to 174 people thanks to our newest hostel: White Heather House.  But unlike any of our other services, or indeed anything else provided locally, White Heather House is a unique and innovative project that serves to do so much more than simply to provide a safe place to sleep for local women that have found themselves in crisis.

Around 25% of the people that we support are women, and they can often have a very different journey to their male counterparts.  Within the female homeless population, there are high levels of vulnerability, and the circumstances that lead up to women’s homelessness are often complex.  Many of the women who have experienced sleeping rough report having experienced abuse of some kind, and this will often lead them to look for ways to avoid sleeping on the streets.  It is this avoidance which further impacts their wellbeing, as they spend time “sofa surfing” or choose to remain in abusive relationships in order to retain a roof over their heads.

The introduction of our single-gender environment allows HARP to provide a less intimidating entry point to homeless services to these women, in a supportive and understanding environment.  Already, this is improving and broadening the support available, empowering women to make positive changes in their lives as well as providing peer support for them from other women who are equally experiencing the loneliness and isolation which so often results from homelessness.  Over the first six months following its opening, HARP’s White Heather House achieved a 73% improvement in outcomes for its residents compared with women in our mixed-gender accommodation.

For many, a disadvantaged upbringing and a dysfunctional family life can make working through the resultant turmoil extremely challenging.  By the time people arrive at HARP, crisis point has been reached and the journey back to a happy and healthy life can be daunting.  But with the support of our specialist team at White Heather House, working closely with other specialist local agencies, the road to recovery for women overcoming homelessness is being embraced in an environment which nurtures personal growth and development, and improves their life chances too.

Homelessness is a complex issue and whilst it has been well documented that there is a shortage of affordable housing and a rise in the cost of living – particularly in Southend-on-Sea where high costs of housing collide with relatively low average rates of take-home pay – these are often just the catalysts for becoming homeless.  There is generally a multitude of underlying issues that build up over time and, without confronting these, finding and being able to sustain accommodation is unlikely to happen for many.  This is why, at HARP, we take a proactive approach to making positive change for all our clients, encouraging all who use our service to access a variety of support networks that collectively will help them to regain their independence.

These pathways include:

  • liaison with private sector landlords
  • the provision of a varied programme of meaningful activities for service users, designed to improve their self-esteem, confidence and self-awareness
  • training opportunities to boost employability
  • addiction therapy to tackle any alcohol or substance misuse
  • access to medical services
  • provision of hot, nutritious meals
  • shower, washing and laundry facilities
  • and, of course, a friendly ear for when the journey feels too tough.

It is this holistic approach to tackling homelessness that empowers the people we work with to overcome their personal issues and to move on successfully.

Photo 3 - Heather Mills at WHH - web ready.jpg

In April this year we were joined by media personality, businesswoman and activist Heather Mills, who officially opened White Heather House and spent time talking to our residents there about her own recovery, following a period of homelessness in her youth.  These women were thrilled that someone so successful would take the time to visit and talk with them, and many reported afterwards how inspired they had felt by the passionate account Heather had given about her own journey.

It is our mission at HARP to support people facing homelessness to not just find a new home, but to work with them to break down the barriers which are preventing them from overcoming homelessness.  Now, our new women’s hostel at White Heather House is empowering more local women to realise their potential and to follow a structured and supported pathway to a meaningful and successful future.