To whom it may concern,
Two years ago my husband was sentenced to prison for fraud and he is due for release in early September 2018. We have two children and are now divorced. A POCA hearing and subsequent confiscation has taken everything he owned so he has nothing. He has been working for the last few months while in prison to save up a deposit in the hope he can rent somewhere when he is released. However this is proving to be impossible.
We, his family are in Oxford and despite his request to be sent to Springhill near his children he was sent to a prison in Gloucestershire. Apparently as he wants to find accommodation in Oxford where he has lived all his life and has family, there is little help where he is as their targets are for people wanting to be rehomed in Gloucester. He has had an appointment with his probation officer this week (his last before release). He has also had appointments with a housing officer in Oxford and Catch 22 but it seems that there is absolutely no help for him on his release for housing. His probation officer has said as he is not a danger to anyone or deemed vulnerable there is no help and she suggested if he gets really stuck she can get him a tent!
How can this be?
Yes he has made a mistake which has resulted in him serving a prison sentence (incidentally this was due to a gambling addiction which probation have yet to address and help him with rehabilitation) but prior to this he was a decent man working full time in IT on a good salary. He has lots of skills in IT and hopes to set up a business himself. He just needs a helping hand for 6-12 months to get back in his feet.
On his last rotl he spent time going to letting agents who have said due to his criminal record, lack of references and having no income they would not be able to find anything for him. They suggested looking for a private rental. He then spent hours looking and made several appointments – one turned out to be a fraud (how ironic!) as they wanted the deposit paid by western union without a viewing and the others would not rent without references, bank statements, accounts and more….. There is nothing.
He cannot return to the family home but he is still the father of our two children who have remained in contact with him over the last two years and are getting excited for his release. He wants to be near them, they want him to be near them. They have had very limited ‘contact’ over the last two years and are desperate to rebuild their relationship with him in a normal environment. They love him. He is their dad whatever. How do I tell them that daddy is homeless?
Half of prisoners lose contact with their families and yet maintaining close family ties reduces reoffending by up to six times. I have tried hard to maintain contact with the children throughout his prison sentence by taking them for visits and sending emails, letters etc but this contact is required after the prison sentence and help should be available with housing close to his children. If he had custody of the children he would be entitled to help with housing but just because he is not the main carer does not mean it is any less important that he lives close to his children.
I am trying to find out what people do on their release when they don’t return to the family home. I cannot believe there is no help at all for those coming out of prison to face the world again and trying to rebuild their lives.
Please can anyone help us?