Help if you’re homeless: ex prisoners
Get help finding somewhere to live if you've left or are about to leave prison.
Help before you leave prison
Most prisons have a housing advice and resettlement service called Through the Gate. The service is delivered by charities including Shelter, St Giles Trust and Catch22.
A resettlement worker in prison can help you with things like:
referrals to suitable accommodation if you'll be homeless on release
dealing with a housing benefit claim while you're in prison
rent arrears or eviction
You can apply for the following grants before release:
a £46 discharge grant
up to £50 for your first night's accommodation (paid direct to the housing provider)
You can also apply to the council for help if you're due to leave prison in the next 8 weeks and don't have anywhere to stay.
Help from the council
The council must:
carry out an assessment of your housing needs
give you a personal housing plan
They should work with the probation service, community rehabilitation company or youth offending team to decide what support you might need.
The council must provide emergency housing if they think you're homeless, in priority need and meet the immigration conditions.
You have a priority need if you're classed as 'vulnerable'. This means it's harder for you to cope with being homeless than other people in the same situation.
Time spent in prison can make you vulnerable.
The council must consider:
any support you get from friends or family
your physical and mental health and how it affects you
how long you spent in prison and when you were released
if you've been able to find or keep accommodation since release
The council should speak to agencies involved in your support and supervision. For example, probation, youth offending team or drug and alcohol services.
You have an automatic priority need if you:
have children who live with you
are pregnant or a partner you live with is pregnant
are aged 18-20 and spent time in care when you were 16 or 17
The council must provide longer term housing if you meet the conditions.
They don't have to help if they decide you are 'intentionally homeless'. This means you lost your home because of something you deliberately did or didn't do.
Examples of when you could be intentionally homeless include if you lost your home because you:
were convicted of a serious offence
didn't pay rent when you were in prison
If the council says you're intentionally homeless, you may be able to challenge the decision.
Help from the probation service
Your resettlement worker and probation worker will make a resettlement plan for you.
Probation teams can give you housing advice and may be able to refer you to a specialist hostel, supported housing or private landlords.
If you're released on licence, the conditions of your licence might mean you can't live in certain areas.
Help with housing costs
You may also be able to get help through a:
grant or loan from a local welfare scheme
Find out if your council has a local welfare scheme:
Find out about local welfare assistance in your area
Help if released on bail or a tag
You need somewhere to stay at before you can be released on bail or an electronic tag.
Court or prison staff may refer you to the Bail Accommodation Support Scheme (BASS) run by the charity NACRO if you have nowhere suitable to live.
Still need help?
NACRO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders)
0300 123 1999 (9am - 5pm Monday to Friday)
0800 953 0125 (Women only)
Last updated: 20 November 2020