New helpline for prisoners released during pandemic

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A new free-phone helpline has opened for men and women in the North East who are being released from prison during the coronavirus crisis.

The helpline is provided by the Humankind charity from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, on 0800 731 2072. It can also be accessed through the website.

‘Changes community based services have had to make alongside the Ministry of Justice initiative to release some people from prison early have prompted us to launch this additional support for drug and alcohol recovery clients leaving North East prisons,’ said Amy Levy, of Humankind, which is based in Bowburn, Co. Durham. ‘We hope to provide information and guided signposting to services and support which is already available across each local authority area in the North East.

She added, ‘There’s considerable evidence that confirms the first few weeks following release as being a critical period during which men and women face a range of increased risks.’

The helpline will point callers to community drug and alcohol service provision, local pharmacy information, local authority housing support and support hubs for vulnerable people, Job Centre Plus and a wide range of community support projects. Links to Probation will also be key for those men and women released on any form of licence, including those released under the early release scheme.

Humankind provides the non-clinical drug and alcohol recovery service element of the new Reconnected to Health service led by Spectrum Community Health CIC.

The Reconnected to Health partnership, which also includes Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) provides integrated healthcare to men and women resident across the region’s seven prison establishments – Durham, Frankland, Holme House, Low Newton, Northumberland, Kirklevington Grange and Deerbolt. The service is commissioned by NHS England. 

All drug and alcohol recovery clients leaving prison in the North East will get details of the helpline in their release packs. Information about local services, including links and telephone numbers, will be held on a dedicated page on the Humankind website.