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St Giles Trust

St Giles Trust

'Reducing re-offending through education'

There are strong links between homelessness and crime, with the Social Exclusion Unit's 2002 report on re-offending saying that 30 per cent of people who go to prison are homeless already and up to a further 30 per cent lose their home while in prison. Without a home there is a danger that ex-prisoners will re-offend simply because they are destitute and desperate. However, the vast majority of prisoners can obtain local authority housing if properly referred, and short term prisoners who have a tenancy can be helped to save it by making a housing benefit claim.

Therefore St Giles Trust decided to target the lack of knowledge of these issues, by training selected prisoners, allowing them to advise other inmates on housing and resettlement. "We are one of the few organisations to have found a way to reduce re-offending", according Diane Gault, head of fundraising at the Trust. She adds that the benefits are not just to the prisoners: 'For every person who does not re-offend, we save society £164,000, the cost of convicting a person and keeping them in prison for one year.'

The Trust now works in 18 prisons across London and the South East, and largely due to the success of the peer advice project, reaches over 15,000 people a year with housing and resettlement advice.  It now has a team of 11 trainers delivering the NVQ3 in Advice and Guidance to prisoners, and since April 2006, 78 serving prisoners have completed the qualification, while a further 56 are close to completing. One prisoner sums up its impact: 'I didn't notice the change while it was happening. It's only through looking back that I realise how far I have come. Had I not done the NVQ3 in prison I would probably still be offending.

Diane Gault
Head of fundraising
Georgian House
64-68 Camberwell Church Street
London SE5 8JB
020 7703 7000
Reg no: 801355
www.stgilestrust.org.uk

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