Restore Support Network received a grant this week from The National Lottery under their 'Awards for All England' grant making programme. The funding is being put towards helping those leaving HMP Exeter. We are extremely grateful for this funding at such a difficult time for prisoners being released. Any donations to our work helping those with care needs being released from prison is greatly appreciated.
Like other charities, we are experiencing difficulties providing our usual service during the Covid-19 lockdown. Before Covid-19, our ‘My Life My Care’ approach offered older people with care needs and due for release one-to-one support for up to eight weeks and access to much needed local care and resettlement services. Now, we are unable to go into the prisons to obtain a pre-release assessment and arrange to meet those with care needs at the gate with our ‘liberty bags’ of clothing and toiletries etc. and help settle people into temporary accommodation.
There is growing concern of older men and women being given short sentences who are more at risk of Covid-19, due to the complexity of their health and social care needs; therefore, we now provide a free-to-call helpline to deal with such cases. For those in prison or at risk of receiving a short custodial sentence, please phone 0300 102 1032.
As a user-led charity, a number of our members with lived experiences helped develop our two Covid-19 helplines. Although we are focusing our efforts first in the South West, we would like to extend this service to other regions in England and Wales towards the end of this year; dependent on funding.
With all the publicity surrounding the government proposals to increase police and prisons budgets with little mention made of funding for the courts and social care; this will have a detrimental effect on the growing number of older people hitting hard times and falling through the gap in services. It is becoming a post-code lottery in some areas where it is impossible to provide care support in the community, let alone in prison. Consequently, some local authorities are unable to fully implement their care services in accordance to the legal requirements of Care Act 2014.
This is confirmed in the latest Age UK report, ‘Health and Care of Older People in England’, 2019, which identifies that care services remain in “purgatory” while demand rises. It states that the care system is in “spiralling decline” and at risk of complete collapse in the worst affected areas.
We are encountering a substantial increase (over 75%) in older people being referred to us with complex and multiple needs ending up in court for minor offences with some receiving short custodial sentences. This is why we are launching a new personalised approach to meet the care needs of older people who received short sentences whose needs are not being met under the Care Act 2014. It is currently being introduced in Devon and Dorset prisons with the aim of rolling it out to the rest of England and Wales over the next two years.
Watch this space for more updates!