72,000 people were released from prison in the UK last year, and roughly 90% will have some form of mental health or substance abuse need. Everyone leaving prison, and especially someone with additional needs, requires support to reintegrate into wider society.
A key aspect of integration is employment; yet only 6% of people leaving prison receive support to find competitive work. This project sought to address these gaps in provision by trialling an Individual Placement and Support (IPS) supported employment programme over three years with people leaving prison.
Working in the West Midlands, the Centre and partners conducted a feasibility study of IPS across eight prisons. In total, 23 of the 61 people who engaged both during and after their time in prison were supported into employment. This was in the face of some major challenges, including the biggest upheaval in probation services for many decades, Transforming Rehabilitation.
The project observed a concerning lack of mental health support for a group with such complex needs. In addition, the project often operated in a vacuum of other support, meaning that before intensive employment support could be provided, the project was required to focus on more immediate needs such as housing and benefits.
From Prison to Work finds that the Individual Placement and Support approach can be adapted successfully to support prisoners to get work when they are released. It calls on the Government to invest in a larger scale trial of IPS for former prisoners and to reform existing employment services in the criminal justice system.
You can read the full report here.