Your stories

If you or a friend or family member has found themselves on the wrong side of the law, we are here for you.

 

We can get you the help you need

No two days are ever the same at CASS+. We often give advice to people who aren’t sure how they’ve ended up in court. We take a creative approach to all sorts of problems for anyone facing the Criminal Justice System.

Everyone’s situation is different, but if we can’t guide you, we’ll definitely know someone who can.

We hope you will be inspired by our stories of change.

 

“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, she was able to keep in touch with him 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 even get 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 get 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 I needed.

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

 

Brian was determined to change his life after prison. We helped him to find a path that ensured he was set up to achieve just that.

Brian*, 51, was referred to us by our office in Plymouth. He was staying in approved premises, residential units for ex-offenders in the community. Brian wanted to find accommodation in Newton Abbot, so we contacted a charity and registered him with social landlord, Teign Housing, to explore options. However, he was classed as high risk and nothing could be done to assist him.

The only option was to rent privately. We knew a hostel would not be an appropriate environment for him. We stayed in touch to keep him motivated and gave emotional support to ensure that 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 eventually rent a flat in Newton Abbot near his family.

Brian was grateful for the constant support that CASS+ gave him during this very frustrating time of change. With our support, he was determined and ready to make the changes to move forward.

“Dave became homeless after a suspended prison sentence”

 

Dave left prison with nothing, apart from the clothes he was wearing. We ensured that he found the right help at the right time and he now now has a home and interviews 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 to us for advice on housing as he was street homeless, which means that he routinely found himself on the streets during the day with nowhere to go at night.

We referred him to the council homeless prevention team which has a legal duty to provide assistance. They applied for a crisis in care grant which is for people like Dave who are in an emergency or disaster situation.

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

We contacted him the next day and were pleased to learn that he had been housed in a local B&B and was seeing an advisor from the council 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 for himself whilst on remand. We have regular contact with Dave to check in 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 for help to pay a fine. He was unable to read or write and felt completely 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. We helped him to complete a means form, he was finally ale to tell the Magistrates the details of 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, who now manages the repayments, helped by a friend who ensures that he makes each payment on time.

Andy was very grateful to CASS+ because he was prevented from getting deeper into trouble due to his literacy skills.

(*Names changed to protect identities)