Without stable and secure housing, people leaving the criminal justice system face numerous challenges that increase their vulnerability to reoffending. Housing and homelessness are two long-standing policy areas that we work on, as they are part of the matrix of multiple disadvantage that leads to the cycle of crisis and crime. We hear it directly from our members all the time. By addressing housing needs, there is the opportunity to disrupt this cycle and provide people with a chance to rebuild their lives.
This issue is not a new one and there are pockets of good practice all over the country, where services work jointly to address multiple disadvantage. These include the Government-backed programme Changing Futures, which came out of the Fulfilling Lives initiative, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. We are proud to have worked on both initiatives, which aim to transform local services to provide person-centred support and reduce crisis demand, testing different approaches to funding, accountability and engagement between local commissioners and services, and between central government and local areas. It is through our work with these programmes that we know that, with the right partnerships, as well as co-production with people at the heart of programmes and governance, and funding and political will, we can do better for some of the most vulnerable in society.
That is why we have been working with The Royal Foundation to support their Homeward programme, launched today, with a mission to end homelessness. Our role is to ensure that the links between homelessness and contact with the criminal justice system for the ‘revolving door’ group – those who commit repeat, low-level crimes driven by unmet health and social needs such as poverty, homelessness or mental-ill health – are factored into this five-year programme. When people have a safe and secure place to live, they are more likely to be in a position to access support services, engage in education or employment opportunities, and establish positive social connections. These factors are crucial in reintegrating people into society, fostering a sense of belonging, and reducing the risk of reoffending.
Homewards recognises that tackling housing and homelessness requires collaborative efforts from multiple stakeholders, including charities, housing providers, government agencies, and the criminal justice system. They will be providing funding to local areas to foster those partnerships, and the programme will work with research and evaluation partners to capture and share the learning. Our friends at Groundswell will also be working to ensure that lived experience voices are embedded throughout the programme, as we provide expertise to guide the programme as it progresses over the next five years.
In response to the programme’s launch, our Chief Executive, Pavan Dhaliwal, commented:
“We are delighted to be working with The Royal Foundation and Prince of Wales on Homeward, which will be a combination of convening partnerships locally to test approaches alongside the building of social housing on his own land.”
“For those who are trapped in the revolving door of crisis and crime, housing is a fundamental pillar in reducing reoffending. By providing stable housing, not only is a basic human need being met, but individuals are empowered to break free from this cycle of crisis and crime. Access to safe and supportive housing opens doors to employment, education, and community engagement, creating opportunities for individuals to lead fulfilling, crime-free lives.”
“By investing in housing initiatives, we invest in stronger communities, contribute to a safer and more inclusive society for all recognise the potential of individuals to transform their lives.”