Project to unite women released from custody with their children is praised by researchers
Published by Kate Meighan for New Charter Housing Trust Group in Care and Support and also in Housing
A country-wide partnership that re-unites mothers with their children after release from prison has been commended by researchers at Cambridge University.
Professor Lorraine Gelsthorpe and Jane Dominey praised the Re-Unite project as making a “positive contribution”, and said it would be a “matter of huge regret if the excellent work of Re-Unite could not be continued.”
Re-Unite was founded by Commonweal Housing and Housing for Women in response to the problems faced by women in rebuilding a stable family life when released from prison. Inflexible rules often make it difficult for women to access housing and other services. Re-Unite works intensively with women to steer a course through various obstacles, supporting them to overcome personal challenges; and successfully live together again with their children.
The report, Re-Unite revisited: an evaluation summary, focuses on Re-Unite South London where the project has been going the longest and there is more scope to look at the impact of its intervention, but it also offers some opinion on the relative success of newer Re-Unite ‘replications’ across the country. It is still early days to assess the impact of Re-Unite Greater Manchester, a new project run by housing charity Threshold; but the latest research points towards positive future results for a highly vulnerable group of women and children. The researchers found that, “without the extra support provided by Re-Unite, [women] were facing the prospect of homelessness, living in a hostel, relying on friends or family or returning to accommodation made unsuitable by the threat of eviction or domestic violence.”
Steve Goslyn, Threshold Chief Executive said: “It’s really good to see how a new type of project like this can have such a big effect on a vulnerable group of people. The report tells us that out of 31 Re-Unite customers in London, only two have reoffended. This compares with the average reoffending rate for women of almost 45 per cent within a year. Threshold is proud to be delivering Re-Unite in the Greater Manchester area.”
Re-Unite’s innovative approach to the provision of services for offenders was celebrated again in recent days when the project was selected as one of three finalists in the Partnership category of the No-Offence Redemption and Justice Awards. Winners will be announced in Leicester on 3rd October.