How we started
Back in 2007 and following the publication of the seminal Corston Report, Housing for Women and Women in Prison approached Commonweal Housing with a concern: too many mothers exiting custody were struggling to create a stable family life for themselves and their children due to inadequate support structures within the
criminal justice system and inflexible housing rules and regulations. Re-Unite was developed to demonstrate that mothers and children who have been separated by imprisonment can be successfully reunited and indeed, thrive when obstacles are removed and when timely support is provided. The approach was
originally piloted in South London and rigorously evaluated by independent researchers at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University. It has since been refined and re-evaluated based on the researchers’ recommendations and is now being replicated across the country.
Our eight principles
- Early in-reach contact
- Through the gate service
- Early reuniting with children (where appropriate)
- Individual, tailored support for women
- Family treated as an entity
- Help in finding and securing settled housing
- User involvement and feedback
- Move-on support with aim for independence
A range of organisations now deliver the programme across the country and the principles are delivered in a variety of ways to suit local families’ needs and circumstances. The current co-ordinators manage the network; ensuring strong strategic oversight, collating
national monitoring and outcomes data, promoting awareness, sharing learning and most importantly, ensuring that Re-Unite continues to work for the women and children involved.
We aim to be the most effective programme in England and Wales for reuniting and resettling families when a mother is released from prison. Re-Unite is run by established charities already at the heart of their communities and offers a tried and tested package of support and housing to ensure that mothers and children start to live healthy, stable, crime-free lives.
- Children are kept out of the care system (where it is in their best interests)
- Families are reunited and supported in suitable, stable family housing
- Mothers lead less chaotic, more healthy lives and desist from offending
- Children and young people access sufficient support
In the community, the voluntary and community sector-run women’s community services are a key element of our approach to female offenders.—Helen Grant MP, Former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice