A modular home for young mums is being built by prisoners and will be assembled on a site in Torquay – in a project which its designers say could fix the homeless crisis.
The first low carbon, affordable modular home is being made this month made by prisoners at HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire and will be assembled with the help of a prisoner released on temporary licence from HMP Channings Wood, Newton Abbot.
It will be occupied by young mothers who would otherwise be in unsuitable accommodation and are in need of support to develop life skills before they are ready for independent living.
The new home is being sponsored by Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, and will be built on land owned by, and the home managed by, Torbay Council.
Craig White, CEO of Agile Homes, the social impact company behind the modular homes, said: “This circular economy model, with people’s housing needs at its centre, underpins our approach to changing the housing market.
“Our model provides an immediate, simple and cost effective solution to help fix the housing crisis. By including education and skills development as well as housing opportunities for prison leavers, we can help reduce reoffending and homelessness. Our partnership with the staff and prisoners at HMP Leyhill will demonstrate the potential to scale up delivery across the UK, using the distributed manufacturing network of prison workshops.”
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Following a successful trial of this model, HM Prison & Probation Service and Agile Homes will look to ramp up the production of new homes from HMP Leyhill and expand to other prisons.
It’s part of a programme which hopes to build more homes, initially on small sites, in this way. The South West Reducing Reoffending Partnership (SWRRP) and West of England Combined Authority will want to ensure more offenders get new skills and financial support to help them find employment and accommodation on release.
Agile Homes’ innovative and proven pre-fabricated panel system, made from carbon banking renewable materials timber and straw, provides a solid, warm, well-designed and welcoming home environment.
Cllr Steve Darling, the Leader of Torbay Council said: ““Torbay Council are delighted to be part of such an innovative partnership project. This pilot project has the ability to positively influence so many lives.”
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Our community wants to see us helping people turn their lives around because when people become trapped in a cycle of reoffending, we all suffer. The costs to society and our communities is immense. Not only does this project seek to address reoffending, it provides inmates with new skills and enough money for a fresh start. The aim is to replicate this across the country and play a part in addressing a nationwide affordable housing crisis.
“We are very proud to have been able to all work together to make this project possible during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Devon Live has launched Hidden Devon, a series of campaigns highlighting issues that lie beneath the surface of our county.
The first concerns the issue of homelessness in the county’s cities, towns and villages – exacerbated by the grim impact of the global pandemic.
Not only do scores of people sleep rough on streets, in parks and even on farmland, there are those labelled ‘of no fixed abode’ for other reasons. They may have fled to a refuge, they may have been temporarily housed in a bed and breakfast or they may simply be living in one of region’s dedicated homeless hostels.
How to give
A big part of our campaign is recognising the institutions across the region that are desperately trying to help those in need. In many instances, they are staffed with volunteers giving up their own free time.
You can donate to various charities including PATH Torbay via this link, the Julian House Christmas Appeal covering Exeter and other parts of Devon via this link, or St Petrocks in Exeter via this link.
Are you a charity that would benefit from our fundraising? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more Hidden Devon stories here