The Check Out Lounge is a multiagency event for prisoners running three or four times a month where prisoners can meet with providers from their local community .
people manage their expectations , understand the steps that they will have to make to get what they need and set manageable and realistic goals . It also helps to make men feel a part of the process and that they have a voice . Feedback from the men is also positive . ‘ Good news – there is loads of possible help ’, ‘ I feel this time I was listened to more about my health situation as it wasn ’ t put on record last time ’ and ‘ I can see a solution ( if approved by probation )’.
JOB FAIR With face-to-face Check Out events now able to be hosted again the most popular are Check Out Work Matters and Check Out Job Fair which offer support in finding employment and training and links with potential employers and agents . The feedback is positive with men lining up jobs , arranging followon calls , speaking to employment agencies and using an in-cell CV pack ( developed by the Departure Lounge team ) to tease out skills and experience that help with the application process .
DEPARTURE When the day of release comes , the departing prisoners are invited into the Departure Lounge for on-the-day essentials , like phone charging , clothing and transport . The reality for people stepping outside the prison gates is that all they have with them are the prison clothes on their back and a carrier bag of possessions that were confiscated when they were arrested . That could have been months or years back , so items like mobile phones will have long since lost their charge . It could also be a cold winter ’ s day – no time to be venturing outside in a thin tracksuit . So the first thing that the Departure Lounge offers is highly practical , or additional items of clothing , water bottles and food for those taking long journeys . The team also look up train times and ensure that the men know where to go for pre-arranged appointments with substance misuse services and probation .
Departure day begins early for the Departure Lounge team . While prison leavers wait in reception to be discharged , staff continue to coordinate support , ensuring medications and prescriptions are in hand and talking to the men about getting home . Where possible Departure Lounge staff carry out an early morning check alongside the custody discharge co-ordinator nurse and reception staff to ensure continuity of care between substance misuse treatment in prison and in the community . This ensures that prisoners do not leave without having received their prescribed dose or onward prescription and a naloxone kit .
After stepping over the threshold , prison leavers are then invited to the visitors ’ centre outside the prison gate . Over a cup of coffee Departure Lounge staff offer practical information and
PETE ’ S STORY
PETE ( NOT HIS REAL NAME ) WAS A PROLIFIC REOFFENDER . He first came into contact with the Departure Lounge when he was handed a flyer about one of its many services , Ask More Phone Out support . One of the numbers on the flyer was for Konnect Communities in Cornwall , an organisation that supports prison leavers back into local communities and into employment . Pete had a really positive conversation with the team at Konnect and it was felt that further contact would cement the next steps for Pete as he prepared to leave prison .
The next available support came via the video link facilities at the prison when Pete was able to benefit from a Check Out Housing Matters session . Following a very successful virtual conversation which further improved Pete ’ s rapport with Konnect and other services that could help him settle into his local community , Pete was feeling confident about his future opportunities for the first time in a long time .
He then came to the first two Check Out Lounge faceto-face events during October
advice . Only around 22 per cent of people being discharged from prison who have come through the Departure Lounge have a phone in their possession , so part of the package of support involves donating some phones to those most in need . The final stage of support involves follow-up calls in the weeks after release . Staff invite feedback and offer brief interventions and encouragement .
CONFIDENCE , RESILIENCE AND SUCCESS It ’ s clear that the Check Out and Departure Lounges are increasing people ’ s confidence , resilience and chances of success when they return to their communities . Addressing two of the most pressing concerns and November where he met properly with Konnect . On the day of his release , Pete visited the Departure Lounge and was met by his family . He was provided with a mobile phone so that he could stay in touch with Konnect and since then he has continued to engage positively with them and is transforming his life . He is supporting himself and others in his family which has meant that he has greatly reduced his risk of reoffending .
Pete is genuinely flourishing and the credit for this is largely down to a new sense of self belief and confidence .
Pete is genuinely flourishing and the credit for this is largely down to a new sense of self belief and confidence as well as the contacts he made through the Departure Lounge services which helped him find the right connections back into his local community .
– housing and employment – is having a hugely positive impact in supporting people back into a more settled way of life . The current reducing reoffending champion sees the benefits of his work every day . ‘ Through my job role , we have helped many prisoners get accommodation with the help of local councils , and through the hosted series of job fair events we connect prisoners with potential employment and services .’
Kerrie Clifford is marketing and communications manager for EDP Drug and Alcohol Service ( part of Humankind )
If you ’ d like more information about the Departure Lounge contact marceva @ edp . org . uk
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