In October 2020, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) awarded ‘trailblazer status’ to East Sussex for its shared vision of improving the outcome for prison-leavers. Trailblazers includes East Sussex County Council, Rough Sleeping Initiative, National Probation Service and Local District & Borough Housing Authorities.

The trailblazers are working to reduce homelessness and re-offending, as research indicates that homeless ex-prisoners are more likely to reoffend than those with accommodation. Research by the Ministry of Justice showed that 79% of those who were previously homeless were convicted in the first year after being leaving prison.

The objectives of the project are aligned with the aims of the East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership to reduce and prevent crime. For example, without housing, ex-prisoners find they are unable to register with a GP and may struggle to seek employment or apply for benefits. These barriers increase the risk of re-offending. However, stable accommodation can reduce the risk of re-offending by 20% (Reducing re-offending by ex-prisoners, ICPS, 2002, P94).

East Sussex is piloting new ways of working with partner agencies such as developing specialist roles and embedding them at critical points in the housing and criminal justice system. They also work closely with the board of directors to improve reoffending outcomes. The hope is that the project will uncover innovative and exciting ways of working that can be replicated nationally.

Useful resources

The East Sussex Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) is a county-wide service which was established as part of the national strategy to end rough sleeping.  The approach in East Sussex focuses on prevention, intervention, recovery and systems change.  The project is lead by the housing authorities in East Sussex, who have partnered with:

  • Probation
  • Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust
  • East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust,
  • ESCC Adult Social Care
  • Change Grow Live STAR.

Alongside a dedicated team of housing support officers, the RSI has a multi-disciplinary team of professionals who provide holistic support to rough sleepers leaving the streets. East Sussex Rough Sleeping Initiative Coordinator: Becky Jackson

Rough Sleeping Support| Southdown Housing

Leaving prison: Support when someone leaves prison – GOV.UK

Sussex Prisoners’ Families

Gate Prison Charity

East Sussex Recovery Alliance Living Free From Addiction

Prison Advice and Care Trust

A Band of Brothers

Seaview Project

East Sussex Veterans’ Hub

Interested in finding out more?

The trailblazer project has already shown promising outcomes, with more to be announced as the project continues. There is also a case study that illustrates how difficult it can be for ex-offenders navigating life outside of prison. Read more about David’s story.