Your stories

As a repeat offender, someone who has discovered yourself on the wrong side of the law or this has happened to one of your family we are here to help.

We are here to help

At CASS+ the work we do is extremely varied and we often work with and give advice to people who aren’t really sure how they’ve ended up where they have. We take a creative approach to all sorts of problems for people in the criminal justice system. Below are some of the stories of the people we work with.

Everyone’s situation is different, but if we can’t guide you, we’ll be sure to know someone who can as we work with many different local partners.

“I was so worried about how I could afford to visit my teenager in prison”

Helen’s life was turned upside down when her teenage son was sent to prison. But with our help we helped her to keep in touch and access the services she needed.

Helen*, 48; “My teenage son was sent to prison for a firearms offence, at the time I was severely stressed out, and struggling financially. This meant I was worrying about how I could afford to visit him in prison. CASS+ helped me straight away. With their guidance, I was able to sort my benefits out, organise financial assistance for prison visits and they even put me in touch with Plymouth Options, a talking therapies service to address my anxiety.

Helen continued, “When my son was released from prison he very quickly got into a relationship and went on to have two sons. Sadly, the two boys had to be removed from his care and I took the decision to take them on and look after them. Once again, I was at a loss as to where to turn and how to access support. Fortunately, CASS+ were on hand to point me in the right direction and link me into my local children’s centre to enjoy facilities and receive the support that I needed.

“Brian desperately wanted to move closer to his family after he’d served his time”

Brian was determined to transform his life after prison. We helped him to negotiate a path that ensured that, with his drive and our expertise, he was set up to achieve that.

Brian*, 51, was referred to us by our sister office in Plymouth. He was staying in approved premises, which are residential units that house ex-offenders in the community. Brian wanted to find accommodation in Newton Abbot, so we contacted a charity and registered social landlord, Teign Bridge Housing, to explore options. However, nothing could be done to assist him for several reasons, risk being one of them.

The only option left open to him was to rent privately, as from our experience with helping people in this area, we knew a hostel would not be an appropriate environment for him. We stayed in touch to keep him motivated and gave emotional support as we knew Brian was focused and proactive about changing his life.

A room in a shared house about 30 miles outside of Newton Abbot came up, and he was also offered some work nearby. Even though this wasn’t his original plan, he realised that by taking this path he would be able to save up and rent a flat in Newton Abbot near his family and things would progress.

Brian was grateful for the constant support that CASS+ gave him during this very frustrating time of change. However none of this progress would have been made if he hadn’t been as determined and ready to make the changes that he did.

(*Names changed to protect identities)

“Dave became homeless after a suspended prison sentence”

Dave left prison with the clothes he has on. The services that we put him in touch with have ensured that he now has a home and he’s interviewing for work.

Dave, 28, came into court on a threat to kill charge and was remanded into custody. After the court hearing he was released with a suspended prison sentence. He came into us for advice on housing as he was street homeless, which means that he routinely found himself on the streets during the day without anywhere to go at night.

We referred him to the council homeless prevention team, who have a legal duty to provide assistance, and applied for a crisis in care award which is for people, like Dave who are in an emergency or disaster situation, to help them with immediate needs.

We provided food bank vouchers and completed an application for Universal Credit. We also referred him to an organisation that could advise him on job seeking.

The next day we contacted him and were pleased to discover he had been housed in a local B&B and was seeing an advisor from the council straight away to complete an application for a more permanent home.

Dave obtained a crisis award of £50 which enabled him to buy some necessities as he’d left prison in just a tracksuit that he had made whilst on remand. We ensure that we have regular contact with Dave to check in with him and we are delighted that he now has a job interview on a construction site.

“Andy* was overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with paying his fines due to his lack of literacy.”

With our help Andy now has a payment plan for his fines on the lowest possible payment terms.

Andy* came into our office asking for assistance with paying a fine, being unable to read or write he was extremely overwhelmed by the whole situation.

We called The Court Fines Office who provided a clear picture of his situation. It was established that he had two separate accounts, one of which he was unaware, because he had been sofa-surfing so had not received any paperwork. With assistance from The Fines Office, CASS+ arranged a Statutory Declaration to enable him to see the details of his case and make an appropriate plea. He attended his court hearing and pleaded guilty, and due to help from CASS+ with completing a means form, he was also able to let the Magistrates know his financial situation.

As a result, Andy is able to pay his fines at the minimum rate allowed by someone receiving means tested benefits; £5 per week. CASS+ also liaised with The Fines Office to have the two accounts consolidated. A payment card and timescale plan was sent to Andy, which he now manages, with a friend supporting him to make payments on time.

Andy was very grateful for the help he received from the team at CASS+ which helped prevent him getting deeper into trouble due to his literacy skills.