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Offender management and rehabilitation

How important is digital inclusion for prison leavers?

A person picks up a Catch22 Justice booklet from a chair. Overlaid is text that reads: "Wisdom Wednesdays: Justice Blog Series".

Access to digital devices and data can provide a lifeline for individuals leaving prison. After receiving a SIM card through Vodafone’s charities connected scheme, one of the service users from our Personal Wellbeing Service was able to arrange housing visits, communicate with their university and family and friends.

Craig* was referred onto the social inclusion strand of the London Personal Wellbeing Service for support with his physical and mental health. Craig experienced homelessness and needed support with finances and isolation due to the nature of his offence. He couldn’t afford to contact all the services he needed such as housing, his local GP, hospital, university, probation and partner organisations and Catch22.

Through the service, Craig’s Catch22 Wellbeing Practitioner, Bethan, was able to gift him a charities connected Vodafone SIM card, with unlimited calls and texts, along with 20GB of data. By providing him with this SIM card, Craig no longer had to worry about choosing which service he could afford to call that week and didn’t have to prioritise one phone call over another.

The power of digital access

Whilst, on the surface, this is a simple solution, gaining a SIM card has opened many doors for Craig.

An essential outcome for Craig was access to healthcare. He has been able to arrange GP appointments and receive the relevant hospital referrals needed for his health conditions which has helped not only his physical wellbeing but mental health as well. Craig can ring mental health support lines, empowering him to reach out for the help he needs, or may need in the future, which was previously hindered by not affording credit.

With his digital access, Craig has also contacted housing providers and arranged numerous viewings for accommodation which has helped him gain his independence back. He can manage and arrange house viewings at his convenience and is able to afford the travel to viewings as he isn’t having to spend that money on a phone. As a result, he has explored more of London which has opened opportunities up for him to move to other parts of the city.

As a result of getting his SIM card, Craig has been able to sort out his university course and contact his university tutors. This has not only improved his prospects but has also increased his confidence in his studies. Prior to this, Craig had to travel to the library. Now, being able to study remotely and have access to emails on his phone is not only more convenient but has resulted in him being in less pain from his health issues.

As well as meeting new people on his university course, Craig has been able to communicate more effectively with his friends and family, arranging to meet up with old friends for catch ups in his spare time. As he lives far from his son and father, his mobility issues mean he cannot travel to them. But now he can catch up with them, whenever he wants to, on the phone, and he has been able to spend the money he once spent on topping up his phone on activities to do with friends, food and clothes.

Ongoing support from Catch22

Craig no longer has to cut calls short, only send texts or wait until his Catch22 Wellbeing Practitioner, Bethan, calls to speak to him about something because of his new SIM card. Instead, Craig can speak more freely during check ins calls and can open up more as he has unlimited time to speak without worrying about the cost. He now lets Bethan know when he is feeling down or not motivated so that Bethan can then reach out to him to provide support on a more frequent basis.

 “By gifting Craig this SIM card, it has transformed the way he connects with people and the support he needs from organisations. He has gained independence, confidence, support, and empowerment.”

– Bethan Swallow, Catch22 Wellbeing Practitioner

*The service user’s name has been changed to protect their identity.