What can a prisoner do if they have lost their accommodation and need to find somewhere to live on release? 

Start working on it as soon as possible. Making applications, and waiting for decisions can take many months – it is never too early to start applying. There may be someone at the prison who can provide lists of housing providers, eg. a resettlement centre or the probation department, but it will be up to the prisoner to do most of the legwork and contact organisations and fill in the forms.

NACRO have a resettlement helpline (0300 123 1999) who will be able to provide lists of housing providers locally. It can take a long time to secure suitable housing, and so it may be necessary for a newly released prisoner to live in a hostel temporarily. It can take several days to secure a hostel place, so the prisoner really needs to start making enquiries well before their release date if they do not have anywhere to live when they leave.

In some cases, Pact can provide Mentors who can work with prisoners on release to arrange housing and finance. To find out more about Pact's Mentors please call our Helpline on 0808 808 3444.

What if they will be looking after children?

The prisoner will need to contact their local council before release and they should arrange housing if possible, but if the council are not able to offer housing s/he will need to go to the council’s homeless persons’ unit with proof that s/he is caring for the children (eg child benefit book) and proof that s/he has just been released from prison. It may be necessary for the family to be housed in a bed and breakfast or hostel until a suitable home becomes available. It is possible the council will refuse to house people with rent arrears or an anti social behaviour order against them. They may offer to refer the person to Social Services for them to try and find accommodation. If the council cannot help, the prisoner should contact a housing advice agency such as Shelterline (0808 800 4444).