Client Background & Present Circumstances:
Drug/alcohol relationship; housing; family circumstances; He served 18 months of a 2-year sentence; this was his first time in prison. The client presented with alcohol abuse problems and also suffered from bi-polar disorder. The client also presented with some family difficulties. While in the prison, the client engaged constructively with the available services – he attended classes in the Education Unit, he was linked with the Probation Service, with Linkage TEO, with the in-prison addiction services and with the Resettlement Service. He availed of the advice provided by Citizens Information Service in the prison.
Full-time employed in IT sector.Summary of behavioural/emotional state as emerged through mediation
Initially presented with low self-confidence and anxiety regarding his ability to establish a healthy situation with his partner and children while maintaining his recovery from alcoholism and his mental health stability. Over time, he came to understand his own needs and to build up his confidence in his ability to make a new life for himself and to maintain his healthy lifestyle.
In preparation for release, five months before leaving prison, the client completed and posted a housing application form. His application was refused even though in accordance with the law, he was entitled to apply for placement on the housing list up to 9 months before his release. The Probation Service in the prison secured €300 from the Governor’s Fund to provide the client with some money on release and the prison surgery agreed to provide the client with medication for 7 days post-release (rather than the usual 3 days). While still in prison, the client obtained full photographic ID and Certificate of Imprisonment; he also completed an application for a Medical Card which was then posted on to family GP.The client was due to be released on Saturday 13th June. The Probation and the Resettlement Service negotiated with the Irish Prison Service (IPS) to secure earlier release, in order to access community based services before the weekend. IPS agreed, subject to post-release resettlement Co-ordinator engagement. The following is an abridged account of the first few days after the client’s release:
Released 10.00am, met by Resettlement Co-ordinator‘at the gate’. Visited the Community Welfare Office. We were told by the counter clerk that they would not process the client’s claim without an address. The client and the resettlement worker explained that the client was just three hours out of prison, but to no avail. Asked to speak to a supervisor who confirmed same. Desk clerk absolutely refused to accept application, as client “didn’t have an address” (To get an address, the client would need to get rent allowance, and by law to get rent allowance he would have to be on the housing list. Asked for help with emergency short-term accommodation – this was refused. When asked by the resettlement worker if this was not a legal obligation of the Council to assist the client, the desk clerk stated that this is only the case when “there are children involved”. The resettlement worker asked to speak with a supervisor but this person was unavailable as on leave. Presented at Community Welfare Office at about 3.00pm but the office was closed for the day. The resettlement worker and the client eventually managed to contact a locum CWO in the building, who was extremely helpful, and gave the client an emergency payment of one week’s money (€204) even though there was no Social Welfare claim ‘on the system’. The CWO also provided the client with €100 emergency clothing grant. The client also got a blank Rent Allowance application form from the office. Visited a Drugs Awareness Project to ‘link in’ with local Mentoring Programme. Booked into Bed and Breakfast (€40 per night).Returned to the Community Welfare Office and presented claim with Bed and Breakfast receipt as proof of address. The proof was accepted but the CWO now wanted P60 for the previous year. Explained (again) that client just released from prison. The CWO agreed to accept the claim, but was unable to process it as accommodation was not permanent.
Returned to Co Council Housing Office with the Bed and Breakfast receipt – the Council refused to accept it as proof of address as it was not a permanent address. The Council also refused to stamp the Rent Allowance form.
Bought local paper and started ringing Landlords to arrange viewings. The resettlement worker and the client found suitable accommodation, where the landlord also agreed to accept Rent Allowance. Paid Landlord €100 cash partial deposit, and got Rent Allowance form completed.
Attended the Town Council Housing Office, who accepted the application. Attended Community Welfare Office at about 11.00am to process Rent Allowance application, but the office was closed. Revisited Landlord and got form completed for SWO. Revisited the Community Welfare Office with new proof of address which was now accepted. Visited GP (30km away) and got prescription for bi-polar medication and got Medical Card application form signed and stamped. This had to be posted, and can take up to six weeks to be approved and for a number to be issued. Went to pharmacy to get the medication and found that it was going to cost €100 for one weeks supply. Visited Citizens Information Service asking for help regarding the Medical Card and housing. A very sympathetic and willing Advocate rang Medical Card Section and arranged immediate appointment. Attended Medical Card Office (very helpful) and secured number – this is a process that normally takes many weeks.
Returned to pharmacy for medication, but as prescription was issued pre-Medical Card, the prescription needed to be changed. Attended the Drugs Awareness project.
All money now spent on B+B, food, deposit for flat, clothes etc. Attended Community Welfare Office and submitted Rent Allowance application form and applied for emergency payment for bedding, etc. but it was not possible to receive money at this stage.
St Vincent De Paul officers visited and gave the client a €50 food voucher, and returned later with some crockery, saucepans and two blankets.
The client revisited the CWO and got a cheque for another week’s benefit (€204) and was told that a voucher for bedding would be posted. The client received a phone call from the landlord, saying he wanted the balance of his deposit today, or client would lose the flat. The client revisited the CWO and asked them to contact landlord direct and explain nature and timing of deposit.
The client registers with FÁS and posts proof of registration to the Community Welfare Office. The landlord rings again, now out of patience. His view is that he has taken a chance letting his property to an ex-prisoner, who has been living there for a week, and the Landlord has still received no rent at all and no meaningful deposit. The client manages to borrow money to pay rent, until Thursday when his first rent allowance payment is due from CWO. The client is still sleeping on the blankets provided by St Vincent De Paul. He rings the CWO to follow up on the bedding voucher.
Eventually, the client was set up in his flat, with benefits and GP/medication needs sorted. Shortly after that, he began doing a course in computer network security.
Expected OutcomeClient is now in university full time, has established a good relationship with his ex-partner and sees his children regularly. He maintains his medication meticulously, and is in good spirits despite living within very tight financial constraints.
Estimated Time frameThe resettlement worker worked with the client for approximately 15 months. It is now over two years since the client was released from prison, and he rings the resettlement worker from time to time to let him know how he’s doing or to ask for advice on a new challenge or decision he might be making.