Partnership wins £3.5m Ministry of Justice contract

Housing provider Thirteen and the Wise Group have been awarded a £3.5miilion contract to support people leaving prison to find accommodation.

Thirteen And Wise Group3

9 Jun 2021

The contract was awarded by the Ministry of Justice to provide advice, support and assistance to people leaving custody who might find it difficult to access suitable housing.

The bid for the contract was made jointly by Thirteen and the Wise Group, a leading social enterprise organisation which works to lift people out of poverty.

When the contract starts in June, the partners will work to help people from across the North East to find more stable and sustainable accommodation on their release from custody.

Thirteen will deliver services in the Tees Valley and Durham, while the Wise Group will deliver services across the north of the region.

The contract is valued at £3.5m and will be delivered until March 2025. It’s expected that over 2,000 people will benefit from the programme each year.

Chris Smith, Thirteen’s executive director of business growth, said: “We’re delighted to be awarded this contract as we’ll be able to use Thirteen’s considerable expertise to help people who are moving into our communities to tackle a range of issues they might be facing on release.

“A vital factor in anyone building a successful life outside of prison is the ability to find quality and sustainable housing. As one of the biggest social housing providers in the North East, Thirteen is perfectly placed to provide support and advice to help people achieve this aim.

“We have many years of experience working to support ex-offenders to find accommodation and rebuild their lives once they leave custody, and this service will help us to continue this vital work.

“The National Probation Service will refer people into the programme and specialist staff will work closely with them to ensure that anyone leaving prison in the area can access the right advice and support, and find the right accommodation to meet their needs.”

Support will include help to find suitable homes, obtaining references for tenancies, ensuring customers have the right skills to manage their home and tenancy, and giving advice and practical support to get them settled.

Alongside the accommodation service, customers will also be able to access a range of additional services offered by Thirteen and the Wise Group, including support with employment, skills and training.

Hamish Robertson, Strategic Development Lead at the Wise Group, said: “At the Wise Group we recognise mentoring as a cornerstone approach to reduce re-offending and we are delighted to be working with Thirteen to continue delivering vital support in the North East.

“All our partnerships supporting justice, employability, energy and wellbeing services underpin our central purpose of transforming lives".

The accommodation contract was awarded after Thirteen and the Wise Group were successful in gaining admittance onto the Ministry of Justice’s dynamic purchasing framework, which allows successful organisations to bid for this and other contracts on the framework.

Prisons and Probation Minister, Alex Chalk, said: “Tackling things like homelessness, unemployment and illiteracy is vital to our drive to cut crime but these issues cannot be solved by our brilliant probation staff alone.

“The expertise and support of charities and companies like those we are funding today plays a crucial role in helping offenders to rehabilitate and lead a crime-free life.”

Thirteen and the Wise Group have previously delivered similar contracts for the Ministry of Justice to provide support for prison-leavers, including Thirteen’s Through The Gate and Lifestyle projects.