The Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company has launched a scheme to help provide clothing for men leaving prison.
Karen Stefanovic works as a part of the CRC’s Integrated Through The Gate team based at HMP Hull and HMP Humber. Her role involves supporting men as they prepare for release and providing a continuity of provision as they adjust to life in the community on licence following leaving the prison gates.
Karen launched the scheme after being moved by the plight of a service user who was released from prison in the run-up to Christmas with just £2.20 in his pocket and wearing a t-shirt and jeans.
Karen said: “The service user had serious mental health issues and had been self-harming. We were able to arrange supported accommodation, but it was upsetting to see him trying to cope in the clothes that he had.
“You can only begin helping people to make positive changes to their lives if their basic necessities are met. It’s self-evident that if someone is cold and hasn’t got a good place to sleep then trying to work with them to prevent re-offending isn’t going to work.
“By helping people with accommodation, clothes and a food parcel you are visibly showing them that you care and are also giving them a reason to engage with the service. That then opens up other possibilities to support their rehabilitation.”
Karen formed a link with a charity called Jacob’s Well, an organisation dedicated to supporting people in need. The charity has provided a range of good-quality clothing which the CRC is now issuing to people in need.
Karen said: “We want to expand the scheme once COVID-19 restrictions permit so that we have a room in HMP Hull from which to store and distribute the clothing and to expand the service to include HMP Humber.
“The level of need that some of the former prisoners have is humbling, but – thanks to the support from Jacob’s Well – we can do something about it.”