Councillors in Leeds say ex convicts aren’t getting enough support after being released from prison.
By Aidan Kerr and Owen Tyrie
A meeting was held in Civic Hall on 2 April which discussed the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
Many on the board agreed that not enough was being done for those who have just been released from prison, care homes or rehabilitation centres.
According to Tempus Novo, prisoners are provided with as little as £46 and a tent when released from a stint in prison and over 75% of those released will not have a job.
Councillors discussed a variety of topics in relation to vulnerable adults in the local area with Richard Jones of The Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board, with aftercare for ex-convicts and rough sleepers being high on their agenda.
Councillor James Gibson believed that something needs to be done to tackle the issue.
“Prisoners are provided with as little as £46 when released”
“There are a dangerously large number of individuals released from care-homes and prisons in West Yorkshire that are not being looked after,” said the Labour candidate for Weetwood.
“Only a small percentage of those released are in regular contact with a social worker, leaving this group exceptionally vulnerable,” he added.
Mr Jones insisted that precautions would be put in place to combat the issue.
“We intend to educate our board on the matter through developing a clear strategic approach which aligns the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Leeds Care Plan.”
Councillor Denise Ragan said that the power of the organisations that help vulnerable adults need to be harnessed in order for progress to be made.
One of the UK’s leading anti-homelessness charities, Emmaus, work to combat the issue through providing meaningful work and a stable environment to live in.
After leaving prison, many adults are given very little to start over with which makes it hard for them to re-adjust to civilian life again.
Figures state that about 90% of prisoners deal with some substance abuse, personality disorder or other mental health problems that often need fixing before they think about working again.
Further statistics state that 60% of ex convicts re offend within two years of being released and only 25% get into some form of employment.
Emmaus believe that the lack of support given to such individuals could indicate why re offending continues to be a national issue.
“90% of prisoners deal with some sort of substance abuse”
“We aim to focus on helping people who want to be helped,” said a spokesperson for the charity.
“Most people we help have overcome issues in the past such as alcohol or drug addiction and our main goal is to help them continue to make strides in their life,” she added.
Priding themselves on exposing ex-prisoners and homeless people to work experience, Emmaus strive to help their companions into finding full time work as well as providing structured support and training plans.
The past 18 months have seen a total of 11 recorded rough sleeper deaths in Leeds alone, prompting the Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board to develop links with well-respected independent consultancies.
Yet, the board continue to make promises to improve how they work, through learning from experiences.
Mr Jones laid out a clear plan to develop a broader understanding of vulnerability in the City, to ensure such fatalities are avoided.
A number of councillors were contacted but declined to comment on the matter.