Through the Gate (TTG) services help people get set up to leave prison. If someone comes out and has no networks, nowhere decent to live and no purpose in their life- it’s easy to see why they might fall back into old behaviours and re-offend. Our service is there to make sure people in HMP Leeds can start building a life for themselves and to move on from their conviction.
Through the Gate Teams are based within prisons, and work with prisoners in the run up to release, helping with a wide range of things including housing, employment and finances. When Catch22 came to HMP Leeds, resettlement support was happening but provision was patchy. Typically resettlement support is from agencies who are based within prisons. While this support is vital – it becomes more difficult to access when someone is released. In the community, they’ll need different services.
Many prisoners don’t know what support is out there for them when they’re released. Often finding this out is complex even for those of us within the sector. We thought- why don’t we link people to these services now? If we bring the outside in, it means people will know who to reach out to when released. Our team saw an opportunity to do something different, and so the resettlement market was born.
For someone in prison, life admin can be life changing.
The market happens once a week, and brings together local services from across sectors. It’s a resource for prisoners to access as and when they need it.As well as linking prisoners to support, the market also gives them the opportunity to do things for themselves. Often this is basic life admin like ringing the bank to cancel a direct debit. On the wings, phone calls are timed and cut off after only a few minutes and, as anyone who’s ever rang their bank knows, that’s often not long enough. The market means we can let them make a supervised longer call to their bank. While this may seem simple, sorting out something like this out can seriously improve a person’s financial situation upon release.
HMP Leeds has a lot of people on very short sentences and recalls. Short sentences often means people are released into chaotic situations, sometimes the very same ones they left. Even if they’re with us for just 14 days, that gives us the opportunity to get them to a resettlement market and start helping them make a change that will hopefully stop them coming back. Linking them to the job centre means they are set up with benefits and are already searching for work before they leave.
Making the market work for everyone
We run sessions every week, some prisoners will come often, some once in a while and some only need to come once. Putting all these agencies in one place means people can find whatever it is they need, and tailor their own support. It’s a rare bit of agency and independence within the prison walls, what better way to prepare someone for a life outside?