Advice for prisoners and ex-offenders

In prison or on release, you may need help and advice with finding somewhere to live, keeping your housing or worries about your finances or debt. Find out where you can get help.

Get help from Shelter when you're in prison

Shelter has specialist housing advisers based in prisons across England. They can help with questions about housing, benefits and money worries while you are in prison. 

Shelter advisers can also help with finding accommodation and support when you are released.

Call Shelter's helpline to find your nearest Shelter prison adviser.

Other sources of advice and help in prison

You may also be able to get help and advice with housing and benefits from other people based in prisons, such as:

  • peer advisers – prisoners who have been trained by Shelter, the prison or another agency to advise and support other prisoners
  • prison resettlement workers or housing advisers
  • probation officers or offender supervisors
  • your personal officer – a prison officer who is allocated to help you
  • faith-based organisations

If there is no Shelter adviser in your prison or in the nearby area, contact another advice agency instead.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a Shelter, Citizens Advice, local council advice office or other advice service in your area.

You may be able to get help from Civil Legal Advice to find a housing, benefits or debt adviser if you qualify for legal aid.

Accommodation in probation hostels

You might be given accommodation in a probation hostel when you are released. This can happen if you are released on licence, for example if:

  • your sentence is for 12 months or more
  • you are considered a high risk and have multi-agency involvement (MAPPA) in your case

If your licence agreement has any restrictions on where you can live, the probation service for the correct area should arrange your hostel in time for your release.

Ask your probation officer or a housing adviser about accommodation after your stay in a probation hostel.

Find out more from Gov.uk about probation services.

Licence conditions and accommodation

You might not have to stay in a probation hostel on release, but could still have licence conditions that say where you can or can't live or visit. This may be a certain area, district or limited to just a certain street. 

Get advice from the probation service about any restrictions that apply to you. Ask your probation officer or housing adviser to help you find accommodation that meets your licence conditions.

Get help when you've been released

Shelter services, advice agencies, law centres or housing advice agencies in your area can help you when you're released from prison.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find an advice agency in your area.

Search Homeless England for organisations that can help in your local area, such as hostels, housing projects and advice services. Specialist projects for ex-offenders in London and Birmingham are also listed.

You may also be eligible for housing help from your local council.

Find out about help available from the council if you have mental or physical health problems.

Help your adviser to help you

An adviser can try to help you with finding private rented accommodation, making a homelessness application or applying for a budgeting loan. To do this, they may need to get information from others who have helped you in prison.

Tell your adviser if you have had help from or contact with:

  • drug or alcohol support workers
  • housing support workers
  • mental health services
  • social worker
  • any other health professionals or housing advisers
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