Home News Commonweal supports new housing initiatives focusing on criminal justice

Lauren Aronin

Lauren is the Communications Officer at Commonweal Housing

Commonweal supports new housing initiatives focusing on criminal justice

Commonweal Housing has agreed to fund four innovative feasibility studies evaluating housing-based solutions to injustices within the criminal justice system. The new partnerships are part of Call for New Ideas 2023: Criminal Justice, established to test new ideas for housing and support models to tackle issues facing vulnerable individuals who have come into contact with the criminal justice system.

The Call for New Ideas 2023: Criminal Justice partners are:

With funding and support from Commonweal, The Daddyless Daughters Project will investigate a housing initiative for marginalised young women who are both care experienced and have engaged with the criminal justice system. The model aims to offer secure and nurturing housing where young women can access personalised, trauma-informed support to help them overcome their traumas and adopt healthy lifestyles and behaviour patterns to reduce the risk of re-offending.

Aliyah Ali, CEO and founder of the Daddyless Daughter Project, said: “It’s an absolute honour to be working with Commonweal Housing on our housing solution idea: Prosperity House Project. I once was a looked after child who was groomed and exploited and who needed a home like the one we are aiming to create. Our organisation is rooted in lived experience, research and trauma informed approaches supporting girls and young women who have been affected by family breakdown, abuse and adversity. We are committed to providing tangible solutions for girls and young women with overlapping unmet needs who have come into contact with the criminal justice system and look forward to the potential of opening our home with you all.”

Commonweal will also support Your Consultation Group (YCG), a CIC based in the Midlands committed to the successful reintegration of prison leavers into society through the provision of education, training and employment opportunities. YCG’s proposed project would utilise unused brownfield and privately-owned land to construct prefabricated modular homes, which are built by prisoners and prison leavers to help address the lack of suitable move-on accommodations for prison leavers.

Mark Hodge, Group Chair at Your Consultation Group, said: “Having access to stable accommodation is proven to halve the rate of reoffending and is the gateway to sustainable employment. We are delighted therefore to be partnering with Commonweal Housing to establish a sustainable model for unlocking unused land for the construction of modular homes for prison leavers. Uniquely, we envisage utilising the considerable talent pool of serving prisoners and prison leavers in every stage of the construction process so that prisoners are quite literally building for their futures.”

Sussex-based women’s charity Brighton Women’s Centre will evaluate the feasibility of safe, trauma-informed housing that can be accessed at short notice by women leaving custody returning to the Sussex area. The service aims to provide easily accessible temporary accommodation for women ineligible for or unable to access emergency accommodation under the Community Accommodation Service Tier 3 (CAS3), which offers prison leavers temporary accommodation upon release.

Ruth Britsch, Women’s Accommodation Support Service Manager at Brighton Women’s Centre, said: “Next Year Brighton Women’s Centre(BWC) willcelebrate 50 years supporting women who have experienced multiple disadvantage and trauma including women involved in the Criminal Justice System and women who are homeless or insecurely housed.

“We are delighted that Commonweal Housing’s Call for Ideas will support us to undertake a feasibility study into sustainable models of trauma-informed, easily accessible accommodation for women from Sussex leaving custody. Our track record of putting women’s experiences and voices at the heart of our provision gives us the opportunity to investigate existing good practice and coproduce a model with women.”

Finally, Commonweal is set to work with specialist Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) charity Solace Women’s Aid and London-wide homelessness charity the Single Homeless Project, who will test their housing initiative in collaboration. The feasibility study aims to investigate a Housing First provision for couples who are rough sleeping where there is suspected or known domestic abuse taking place, and the survivor in the relationship wants to be housed alongside the perpetrator, and other offers of accommodation have been refused or not worked. 

The model would provide concurrent, but separate, independent accommodation and personalised intensive support to each person in the couple in order to increase the physical and psychological safety of survivors and address the repeat offending of perpetrators.

Rebecca Goshawk, Head of Partnerships and Public Affairs at Solace Women’s Aid, said: “Solace is delighted to work in partnership with Commonweal again to develop an innovative housing solution for women experiencing violence and abuse. Alongside Single Homeless Project, we hope to look at how we can ensure that women experiencing rough sleeping and domestic abuse, including those in couples, can get the support they need and rebuild their lives.”

At this stage, organisations will conduct a short-term feasibility study to establish and test the viability of their proposed model. The initial studies will be used to determine whether the idea could operate as a viable and impactful property-based pilot project. Commonweal aims to support successful feasibility studies from inception through to the project development stage and exiting the project at the end of its life cycle.

This year marks the fourth year the charity has opened its flagship Call for New Ideas programme. The call only centered around the criminal justice system – one of Commonweal’s three priority focus areas – to help the charity focus its attention and resources. In 2024, the call will re-open in Spring to focus on injustices facing young people and in the summer to centre around issues within the migration, asylum and human trafficking sectors separately.

Amy Doyle, Deputy Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “The criminal justice system has been a longstanding focus of Commonweal’s work for several years and remains a core theme as we believe that the housing element of the criminal justice system requires greater attention. These housing proposals offer new and creative ways of using housing and support models to help address issues facing those who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. We are pleased to fund the latest feasibility studies and look forward to supporting our new partners to test their ideas.”

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