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Lincolnshire Action Trust

James Gourlay, about 3 years ago

Overnight you are put in prison. Your life carries on, but you are no longer there to manage it. What do you do? As your sentence ends you are confronted with the same issue, but from a different angle, you have to pick up life and manage it again, how do you do this?

These are two incredibly pertinent issues that people struggle to deal with and Lincolnshire Action Trust (LAT) aims to help people navigate them. We spoke to Lauren Mumby, Performance and Development Manager at LAT to discuss the charity's work with people going into and leaving custody, and learnt more about the variety of programmes they offer.

For Lincolnshire Action Trust their first point of contact with some entering prison would be through their SPARC programme. Standing for 'Supporting People After Remand and Conviction', SPARC operates in the Lincolnshire District Magistrates Court, Lincoln Crown Court, and HMP Lincoln Reception.

The core premise of SPARC, and in fact LAT's Departure Lounge provision, is that if people are provided supported so that their basic needs are met then they are more likely to be able to reflect and engage in behaviour change.

SPARC aims to improve wellbeing by tackling the challenges that people face. This stretches from safeguarding children, vulnerable adults, and pets, through to addressing substance misuse issues that people may have. The key focus is addressing the individual's specific needs and helping them to tackle them. Practically this plays out in a number of assessments and meetings both immediately after remand or sentencing and in their early days of custody. These initial meetings centre on identifying immediate issues that may affect the safety of the individual. This may be looking at risk of suicide, or any substance abuse issues. Following this, LAT helps the individual by contacting family, employers, or any support organisations that may be needed to assist the prisoner's dependants.

In addition, people receive a follow-up meeting on their second day in custody with the aim of addressing any outstanding needs. This meeting will also help to initiate a productive time in custody for the individual, looking ahead and referring them on to other services and courses that will help them to rebuild their lives upon release.

Having had this support at the daunting early stages of being in prison LAT also engage with men when they are released and will be the first point of contact when an sentence ends through their Departure Lounge service. Running in both HMP Lincoln all those leaving prison are directed through this and offered support. Acting as a comfortable first port of call, the Departure Lounges offer those being released a space in which they can meet with anyone coming to greet them, or to access vital supplies they need such as clothing. Within this space people can use the phone if required, but it will also allow them to address any issues, for example, housing, which they may not have a solution for yet. For most people leaving prison the step through the gate can feel like a vicious bump back to reality, and without proper support can leave people very vulnerable to falling back in to cycles that led them to prison in the first place. One recipient of services said, “when I entered the departure lounge I was welcomed by the staff and they was fantastic, very welcoming. They gave me a suit, which I was pleased about, as I've never owned one, plus other things such as toiletries and a drink. I recommend this in all prisons as its good for people leaving prison". A similar departure lounge is also delivered by LAT at HMP Ranby where a Practitioner offers pre-release support to men who have additional health needs. The same Practitioner is also available each morning to support people after release.

Lincolnshire Action Trust delivers a number of other services in both the community and in prisons through out Lincolnshire, Humberside, Rutland, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire. This includes employment services, support for women who have been involved with the criminal justice system, a support for children and families with a relative in custody.

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