Getting help with resettlement in prison

As you get close to your release date you may be thinking about support you need to resettle in the community.


There should be resettlement services provided at the prison to help you with this. This includes help with housing, employment and benefits.


You should also get support with health issues including being linked to support services such as substance misuse services.


Many of the resettlement services in prisons are now provided by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). These are private companies contracted to provide support. Some CRCs are made up of charities to provide these services.

Employment advice and support

If you would like help finding work for your release ask to speak with an employment adviser.

They may be able to help you with the following:

  • Think about the types of jobs you could apply for depending on your skills and interests
  • Help you prepare a CV
  • Give advice about job searching and making job applications
  • Practice interview skills

If you are eligible for Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) you may be able to apply for and start paid work whilst you are still serving time in prison. For more information, see our Information sheet about Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL).

Housing advice

If you need help with accommodation for release, you should ask to see a housing or resettlement adviser.

You could also speak to Shelter on 0808 800 4444

There are different types of housing which might be available depending upon the amount and kind of support you need and the area you are returning to.

Getting help from your local council

The council has a duty to assess you for housing if you tell them you are homeless or will be homeless within 28 days. This is called making a ‘homelessness application’.

If it is possible that you could be vulnerable, they might have a duty to offer you temporary accommodation whilst they find out more.

If you think you should be getting help from the council speak to a housing adviser, a legal adviser or the Shelter helpline above.

There is also more information about councils’ housing duties at :

Hostels and Supported Accommodation

Some areas have hostels and other supported accommodation. These often have entry criteria based on things like your age, gender, local connection and support needs.

For example, one hostel might be for men over 25 with a history of alcohol misuse, whilst another might be for women with mental health issues or other vulnerabilities.

To get a place in a hostel you normally have to get a referral from a named agency, such as the local council or a homeless support service. In some places there are waiting lists. Be aware that it is usually very difficult to get a place in supported accommodation if you do not have a local connection to that area.

The following websites can be used to search for homeless services in your local area:

You can also call St Giles Trust Peer Assist helpline on 0808 801 0600 for advice on services near you.

Private Rented Accommodation

Private rented accommodation might be an option for you.

You should think about whether you have money you can use for deposit and rent in advance. If not, ask a housing adviser if there are any schemes in your local area to help with this, such as ‘rent deposit schemes’.

You should also consider if you have references you could use.

You should think about how you would be able to pay rent and how much you can afford.

If you are likely to need to claim housing benefit to pay your rent you should check you are eligible and see what the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is for the area you are looking at. This is the maximum amount of housing benefit that you could get to pay for privately rented accommodation in this area.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates can be looked up here:

Other housing options

There may be other accommodation options in your local area which are not covered above.

Make sure you speak to a housing or resettlement adviser to find out what your options might be.

Benefits and grants

Job Centre Plus

If you need to apply for benefits for your release, ask to speak to Job Centre Plus staff at the prison. They should meet with you before you are released to work out what benefits you will be entitled to on release.

Some benefits can be applied for whilst you are still in prison so that you wait less time for a payment when you are released. For example, you can start your claim for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) whilst still in prison.

Unfortunately it is not currently possible to start claims for all benefits before release. For example, claims for benefits like Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit cannot be started until you are released. However the Job Centre Plus staff can give you advice as to what you should do when you are released, including giving you the correct phone numbers to call to start your claim quickly.

Local Welfare Assistance Schemes

Local Welfare Assistance Schemers are run by some local councils to provide support in an emergency.

Each local scheme will have different eligibility criteria and offer different types of support.

You will usually need to be on a low income or receiving certain benefits. There may also be other criteria.

You will not normally receive money. You could get vouchers for food or clothing.  You could get items you need for your home such as a bed, cooker or a fridge.

Information about benefits and other grants

Turn2us is a national charity that can give you advice welfare benefits and other charitable grants that might be available to you.

You can contact their helpline on 0808 802 2000 (9am–8 pm, Monday–Friday).

Other finance and debt advice

If you need advice about money or debt you can contact the Money Advice Service.

You can contact their helpline on 0800 138 7777 (8am-6pm Monday to Friday, and 9am-1pm Saturday).

Health and Social care on release

If you are not registered with a GP in the community, you can ask someone from healthcare to help you arrange this for your release. This is particularly important if you are receiving medication that will need to continue once you are released.

If you are currently receiving treatment for a health issue whilst you are in prison, this should continue when you are released into the community. Healthcare staff in the prison should make sure relevant services in the community are told about your health needs and when you are being released.

If you have been receiving support for mental health issues in prison this might include a referral to mental health support in the community such as the local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).

If you are think you need a referral and are unsure if this has happened, ask to speak to healthcare staff.

Referral to substance misuse service in the community

If you have been receiving support for drug or alcohol problems in prison and need community support on release this should be arranged by staff at the prison, usually someone from drug and alcohol services or from healthcare.

Before you are released they will make a referral to support services in the community. They should let them know when you will be released from prison. This is so that your treatment continues when you are released.

You will often be given an appointment to see the service in the community on the day of you release, or soon after if this is not possible. It is important that you go to this appointment, especially if you need medication to help you manage in the community.


Social care in the community

If you have a disability or need support you might be able to get help from social services when you return to live in the community.

It is important that the social services where you are going to live know about you before you leave prison. The local council where you are in prison should tell the council in the area you will be living about your needs. They should then look at what help you will need when you live in the community.

Further information


Useful PSIs and PSOs (these should be available in the library):

PSI 04/2015 Rehabilitation Services Specification - Custody

Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) Policy Framework


Online resources

Advice services



Telephone number





0808 800 4444



Shelter Head Office,
88 Old Street



St Giles Trust Peer Assist


0808 801 0600 or

020 7708 8000

64-68 Camberwell Church Street
London, SE5 8JB



0300 636 1967

66 Commercial Street
E1 6LT


Resettlement Advice


0300 123 1999

46 Loman Street
London SE1 0EH



01634 247350

The Helpline, Unlock,

Maidstone Community Support Centre,

39-48 Marsham Street, Maidstone, Kent,

ME14 1HH

Money Advice Service


0800 138 7777

The Money Advice Service,

Holborn Centre,

120 Holborn,

London, EC1N 2TD  

Turn 2 Us

0808 802 2000

200 Shepherds Bush Road, Hammersmith, W6 7NL




For a print-ready version of this information, click here.