West Berkshire Council

Ex-Offenders

Housing advice for ex-offenders

The council can provide you with advice and assistance if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days and you are unable to resolve your housing situation.
 

What can the service do to support you?

Duty to prevent homelessness: The council is committed to supporting applicants who are at risk of losing accommodation within 56 days. This means that we will try to prevent your homelessness by helping you to remain in your current accommodation, if that is possible. Otherwise we will explore with you alternative housing options such as securing accommodation in the private rented sector or supported accommodation.

Duty to take steps to relieve homelessness: We will assist households who are homeless to secure suitable accommodation, regardless of whether they are 'intentionally homeless' or have a priority need. This means that all eligible households will be offered help to secure accommodation.
 

Will the council provide me with accommodation?

We can provide advice and assistance to enable you to find alternative accommodation. However, we will not have a duty to provide emergency accommodation or temporarily house you unless you are considered to be eligible, homeless and have priority need. Your Homelessness Prevention & Relief Officer will discuss this with you as part of your application process and make necessary enquiries to determine our duties.

For more information on the homelessness criteria, please visit Shelter Homepage or contact Shelter on 080 8800 4444.

If it is identified that you have support needs, the team can discuss referrals to appropriate support agencies. 
 

Retaining accommodation while in custody

In some circumstances you may still be entitled to housing benefit towards your rent but only up to 13 weeks if sentenced and 52 if remanded in custody. This will only be paid if you have an intention to return to the property whilst in custody and you will need to make a new claim if you are not receiving housing benefit already. 

If you are in receipt of housing benefit you must update the relevant department if you are remanded in custody, sentenced or released. It is your responsibility to tell the council's housing benefit department about any changes in your circumstances, you can do this by emailing benefits@westberks.gov.uk or by calling 01635 519258. 

For more information visit the shelter website: Shelter Homepage

If you decide to give up a tenancy when it would have been reasonable for you to return to it, you may be deemed intentionally homeless. This would mean you are only entitled to limited help from the council if you are in need of housing advice.

You can approach the service to receive further advice and information about your housing situation by contacting the housing operations team on 01635 519 530 and choose option 2. Alternatively, you contact us by e-mail on housing@westberks.gov.uk 
 

Where else can I get housing support?

Shelter

Shelter offers telephone advice and information for people with a housing problem or who are homeless. Issues dealt with include housing rights, harassment, illegal eviction, rent and mortgage arrears, disrepair, housing benefit, domestic violence, hostel placements and finding accommodation. Helpline is open 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 8am-5pm at weekends.

Telephone: 080 8800 4444
Website: Shelter Homepage
 

Nacro

Nacro house and support vulnerable people, including young people, adults and families, and help them to move on through our National Homes Agency.

  • They offer education and skills for young people outside of mainstream schooling
     
  • They help people in custody and the community to reintegrate into society, helping with housing, mental health and substance misuse issues
     
  • They support people to overcome barriers presented by their criminal records and to move on from previous mistakes
     
  • They speak out on behalf of the people we work with to influence policy and public debate, addressing the social issues we know many people face.

For resettlement advice, please call: 0300 123 1999 or e-mail on helpline@nacro.org.uk 

For more information, please visit Nacro - the Crime Reduction Charity
 

Other related support

New Leaf

New Leaf aims to support people through the challenging first few weeks after their release, and to help them address any issues and obstacles they might have which stand in the way of effective resettlement. Overall they aim to reduce re-offending through effective resettlement. New Leaf provides help and support to offenders who plan to resettle in Oxfordshire, Berkshire or Buckinghamshire, including Milton Keynes. Through mentoring, they aim to help people resettle effectively, and address successfully any issues and challenges they have. Their aim is to reduce reoffending and to help people fulfil their potential.

You can contact them by telephone on 01844 202 001 by e-mail on: info@newleafproject.co.uk
 

Berkshire Care Trust

The Berkshire Care Trust (BCT) provides financial assistance by way of grants, loans or emergency cash payments to people under the supervision of the Probation services in Berkshire.

They provide financial assistance for anything from basic clothing to securing accommodation or meeting the cost of getting back into work. The Trust can help fund training courses, clothing for interviews or specialist equipment for the workplace. Urgent requests for bedding, basic clothing, furniture or white goods are also considered.

To access this support, an Offender Manager must complete a BCT application form and send it to the BCT Treasurer. The Trustees aim to respond quickly and in good time to help the applicant. Applicants remain anonymous. The Trustees will only be given basic facts and details of how the grant or loan may support their rehabilitation.

Speak to your probation officer to make an application. Alternatively, you can e-mail info@berkshirecaretrust.org if you have any queries.
 

PACT

The Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact) is a national charity that provides support to prisoners, people with convictions, and their families. They support people to make a fresh start, and minimise the harm that can be caused by imprisonment to people who have committed offences, to families and to communities.

Website: Prison Advice

Telephone: 0808 808 2003

Email: info@prisonadvice.org.uk
 

The Prince's trust

The Prince's Trust works with disadvantaged young people aged 11-30. They provide training, personal development opportunities and grants to help young people to get into work, education, self-employment or training.

Website: Princes Trust

Telephone: 080 0842 842 (free)

Text 'call me' to: 07983385418 
 

Swanswell West Berkshire

Swanswell provides a Treatment and Recovery Service (TARS). This provides a number of different support services:

  • Assessments
  • Community outreach
  • Harm reduction - needle exchange
  • Information and advice
  • Breaking Free Online
  • Peer mentor programme
  • Family and carer support
  • Access to detox
  • Counselling
  • Access to mutual aid
  • Psychosocial interventions, including MI and CBT therapies
  • Pharmacological interventions - prescribing service
  • Access to education, Training and Employment (ETE) services, including volunteering
  • Thames Valley Police Drug Diversion Scheme
  • Social and physical activities

You can contact them on 0300 003 7025 or e-mail on: wberksadmin@swanswell.org

For more information, please visit: Cranstoun
 

The Hardman Directory

Provides a list of funding that is available to ex-offenders. Also has a list of companies who employ people with convictions.
 

Website: Prisoner Funder
 

St Giles Trust

Provides a range of support, such as mentoring, help with housing, finding a job and maintaining ties with family.

Telephone: 020 7708 8000

Email: info@stgilestrust.org.uk 

Website: St Giles Trust
 

Unlock

A charity led by reformed offenders. It has a helpline that provides information on many topics including how being in prison affects benefits and housing, banking, insurance and employment.

Telephone: 016 3424 7350 (Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm)

Email: advice@unlock.org.uk  

Website: Unlock
 

Langley Housing Trust

A Christian charity that provides resettlement accommodation for ex-offenders and those at risk of offending.

Telephone: 033 3003 5025

Email: info@langleyhousetrust.org

Website: Langley House Trust