Prisoners are helping to tackle the housing crisis in the South West.
This week I am delighted to tell you more about a project where prisoners are helping to tackle the housing crisis in the South West by building environmentally-friendly 'eco-pod' homes.
This is a pioneering new project led by the South West Reoffending Partnership (SWRRP), supported by all five regional Police and Crime Commissioners.
Under the leadership of professional tradespeople at MMC Homebuilding Ltd, prisoners at HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire, have been learning a range of modern construction skills while also gaining valuable work experience, supporting their rehabilitation in readiness for their release.
Its vital that we start to think about and approach rehabilitation and preventing reoffending in different ways and this project certainly achieves that. Not only does it equip prisoners with a purpose, but it also teaches valuable career building skills and instils a great work ethic – added to that it creates essential housing for those who are most in need – I know many homeless people who want to get off the streets, want the security of ‘their own front door’ and projects like this offer that opportunity.
The eco pod homes offer more than much needed, quality, affordable accommodation for those that need it in the community. They are also easy to relocate, built using low carbon methods and offer high energy efficiency to reduce energy bills for the occupants.
Using funding secured from the One Public Estate Programme a development framework will be implemented across the South-West. This framework will help to roll out the scheme and enable other public sector organisations to easily access modular housing providers, develop a pipeline of public-sector sites for housing and identify further prison support methods across the South West to assemble and construct the homes.
The prisoners who are taking part in the project have recognised the value of being involved, with one saying: “It’s quite hard outside going into employment, having to do disclosure and explaining where you’ve been for the past few years, so if I could get full time employment doing this it would be great. This project is great for getting prisoners used to a day’s work, teamwork, working on your own initiative and also picking up new skills. I’m really confident that when I come out after this sentence, I will make a success of my life.”
All the PCC’s from across the South West have come together to support this project because we all want to build a better society - we all want our residents to be successful and have a good life and if this project provides a pathway away from a life of crime, then so much the better.
I look forward to seeing a similar homebuilding project happening in Dorset in the future.