Hampshire launches RECONNECT mental health service for prison leavers

A new service from Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has launched in Hampshire which provides continuity of care for prison leavers.

RECONNECT, care after custody, involves NHS clinicians working with colleagues within justice services to ensure that rehabilitation efforts are maintained following the prisoners’ release. The launch marked the rolling out of the service in HMP Winchester and other areas across the country.

With many incarcerated people struggling with mental health issues, learning or communication difficulties or other forms of vulnerabilities, RECONNECT aims to alleviate these issues by assessing a person before release and creating a plan of continued support when they are integrated back into the community. A peer support worker or support time recovery worker with lived experience of the prison leavers issues will then direct released individuals to services which will help and support their continued rehabilitation. This might include GP registration, access to housing, as well as therapy and support groups.

Referrals can currently be made by prison healthcare staff, probation and the NHS liaison and diversion service. Referrals from prisoners and prison staff will be begin this month, with plans to extend the service to prisoners family and friends in the future.

Other organisations involved in adopting the service include HMP Winchester, HMP Bullingdon, HMP Aylesbury, HMP Grendon, and HMP Springhill with the remaining prisons aiming to offer the service by March 2024.

Kishan Waas, Head of Health and Justice at Berkshire Healthcare, said: “RECONNECT’s ‘no wrong door approach’ links vulnerable people with service to support their health, wellbeing and recovery. For many, this can the difference between returning to or staying out of prison.”