New house opens door to Jake’s fresh start

Jake was jailed for two years after his life spiralled out of control and he turned to drugs and alcohol, but support from probation and a specialist housing organisation has helped him hit the ground running after leaving prison.

The 29-year-old was sentenced for possession of an imitation firearm and of possessing cannabis. Jake was released from his first ever custodial sentence at the beginning of the year – and like many prisoners was facing a deeply uncertain future.

Jake readily admits his life had hit rock bottom when he committed the offence. He was drinking every day, smoking cannabis and taking cocaine. He had also got into an argument which had gotten out of control.

He said: “I was in a really bad place. I thought the imitation firearm was a sensible precaution, but I was making very bad decisions and I was an accident waiting to happen.

“Prison was a horrible thing and it really opened my eyes, but in a funny way it gave me time to think. I didn’t like the person I’d become, and I wanted to change.”

Jake was offered support as part of the West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company’s Integrated Through the Gate (ITTG) scheme.

An ITTG resettlement worker at HMP Humber worked with Jake to discuss his accommodation issues and looked at what wider support in the community was required to ensure he had the best possible start to life outside the prison gates.

The scheme secured support from the Kirklees Better Outcomes Partnership (KBOP), a group of social sector organisations commissioned by Kirklees Council to support people in the community who face an increased risk of homelessness. KBOP helps people secure or maintain suitable accommodation, to improve their health and well-being, and to develop the skills they need to live independently.

Jake said: “The support has made a terrific difference to me. It meant I came out to my own place. It was even fully furnished, initially I didn’t have a cooker but then got that sorted almost straight away.

“They also helped me sort my Universal Credit out and to enrol on a CSCS course so I can get the accreditation I need to start back in work.

“Once I’ve got a house and a job and am earning, I will feel like I’ve made it. If you don’t have your own place and job, you get run into the ground and feel there’s no hope – that’s when things can go wrong.”

The father-of-two has successfully quit drugs and is looking forward to resuming his career as an engineer.

He added: “I definitely think that the Government is right to invest money to help others like me as they are released from prison. If you come out jobless, homeless and hopeless then more crime is inevitable.”

Liz Sunley, from WY CRC’s ITTG team, said: “I am delighted Jake has hit the ground running and that’s precisely why our team works so hard supporting people for release from prison.

“All the evidence shows the first 48-hours after leaving the prison gates are crucial. If you can get those first steps right, then it’s possible to make a new start and embrace a new life.”

Sarah Cooke, KBOP Director, added: “Jake was referred to us and thanks to the flexibility of our contract we were able to start working with him in prison to understand what help he wanted how we could enable that.

“Everything we did focused on Jake’s strengths and ambitions and his determination to return to independence. It’s a person-led service, with the freedom to help those we work alongside to achieve their goals.”

KBOP is a social enterprise that has eight different charities within the partnership, so KBOP can select the right service for each individual. KBOP is part of Bridges Outcomes Partnership and all projects are based on ‘social outcomes contracts’ – which means the commissioner pays for the achievement of agreed outcomes, not the delivery of a pre-specified service. This change in focus allows for a more collaborative approach to service design, greater flexibility in service delivery, and clearer accountability for improving people’s lives.

The National Probation Service’s Amy Lloyd and Lyndsey Mayhew worked with Jake during his time at HMP Humber and are now supervising his case. As part of KBOP, Katie Morris and Lorraine Lawrence of Foundation continue to support Jake in the community.