The Prison Leavers Project team provide a wrap around intensive support service from the moment the person leaves prison, starting with preparatory work that takes place with the person in prison prior to their release date.

This team of three full-time Peer Navigators support the person leaving prison to successfully engage with service provisions most notably ‘Project Adder’ and aim to have secured accommodation on the first night of release. The Peer Navigator Service directly addresses the root causes to why people leaving prison re-offend.

Following the work around forming a trusting relationship with the person leaving prison, the one to one work includes:

  • Visiting the Probation Office to meet the offender manager – this is essential, as failure to attend can mean being recalled to prison.
  • Visiting the local authority housing office to arrange accommodation – people without accommodation are required to present in person on the day of their release.
  • Applying for benefits (such as Universal Credit) – claims cannot be made before release and as claims cannot be backdated it is important an application is submitted on the day of release.
  • Collecting prescriptions from a pharmacy – this is particularly urgent for those on opioid substitution treatment (OST – such as methadone) as delays can result in relapse and re-offending.
  • Attending GP appointment – people experiencing multiple disadvantage often have acute physical and/or mental health needs.
  • Emotional support
  • Forming links with positive individuals and communities.

 

The key outcomes achieved are that the person leaving prison is empowered to lead a life which does not involve criminal behaviour and a subsequent return to prison.

Empowerment believes that each person leaving prison has unique potential to become the best version of themselves. Returning to criminal behaviour is a waste of that potential, supporting people leaving prison to become happy and fulfilled people who are making a positive contribution to their local community is what we will be working so hard to achieve.

Meet the Prison Leavers Peer Navigators

Ben Johnson
Prison Leavers Project Peer Navigator

About Ben

I started working with Empowerment on the Peer4u project as part of the Lived Experience Team in 2019. Since then I have gained my level 3 Diploma in Counselling and I have completed DANOS so am a qualified drug worker. With these skills and my life experience, I feel I have found my home with Empowerment whose values sit within my own, especially that of kindness.

The Prison Leaver’s Project is a much needed service to face, head on, some of the shortcomings of the Justice system where people with multiple disadvantages are being set up to fail. I know, from my personal experience, how difficult and challenging it is to break out of the cycle of addiction and offending. Upon release from prison, after a long sentence, I was fortunate to have support from my family as I moved into a flat with my brother and went working with my Uncle. I still found it very difficult adapting back into society, even opening a bank account was nigh on impossible. I had no ID and my Grandma had to come into the bank with me to persuade the manager to open up an account for me.

By supporting these people coming out of prison with housing, benefits, probation, medical appointments and encouraging them to find purpose in college, volunteering or employment I know our team can make a difference.

Steven Brown
Prison Leavers Project Peer Navigator

About Steven

My name is Steven brown a Peer Navigator on the Prison leavers programme.

I have been in recovery since 2016.  I am a local Blackpool lad and have been in and out of Prison most of my life.  I have been homeless had problems with drugs and have been with Blackpool services most of my life.

After being released from prison in 2016 I went into a recovery house in Blackpool and learned how to live a drug free life, got some education,  started volunteering then I got a job with permitted work on the lived experience team on system change in Blackpool.

I then took a full time job on Project Adder to help people with multiple complex needs.

I am very passionate about people coming out of prison and have done a lot of work around prisons.

When I heard about the Prison Leavers Project, I jumped at the chance for this new role. I know to well the barriers people face from Blackpool coming out of prison and I believe that with the right help and support anybody coming out can change their life for the better.

David Wilson
Prison Leavers Project Peer Navigator

About David

My name is David Wilson I am a Peer Navigator on the Prison Leavers project at Empowerment Charity.

I have been in recovery since 2015 after many decades in addiction, and numerous prison sentences, each time I left prison, with very limited help, I always ended up in the same circumstances that led me back to prison.

I have lived in Blackpool since 1988 and am well aware of the problems people with complex needs face in this town, and the daily struggles they have.

After spending the first few years of my recovery in the construction industry, I decided that the time I spent in addiction, the things I had to do to fund that, and my experience in recovery, gave me a unique set of skills to enable me to help others.

There were certain people who helped me get to where I am in recovery, to whom I will be forever grateful. This position came up with the Prison Leavers Project at Empowerment, which was ideal for me to give something back to the community I live in.

Nicola Plumb
Lived Experience Team & Prison Leaver Project  Manager

About Nicola

I started working with Empowerment in July 2014 as an Apprentice Navigator for the Fulfilling Lives Programme after a period of volunteering within Blackpool substance misuse services. During this time I started my Bachelors degree in Health and Social Care and to develop new skills I also went to work for a partner agency as Life Skills Coordinator.

Due to my passion for Empowerment and the Fulfilling Lives programme I returned 12 months later as Volunteer Coordinator. From this I progressed within my role and took on more responsibility as the Lived Experience Team Manager.

My passion has always been to get the voices of people who use services heard and to create an easier pathway to accessing services in Blackpool for people with Multiple and Complex Needs, which this role allows me to do with the support of Empowerment and the Lived Experience Team.