Torbay chosen as first site for pioneering project where prisoners build new home

Torquay has been chosen as the site for a ground-breaking initiative helping prisoners learn new skills while also addressing homelessness.

The scheme involves construction of a modular home by inmates at Leyhill Prison, paid a fair wage, which will be assembled on a site in Torquay.

The site is owned by Torbay Council and construction will be helped by a prisoner, released on temporary licence from HMP Channings Wood.

It will be occupied by young mothers who would otherwise be in unsuitable accommodation and need support to develop life skills for independent living.

The pre-fabricated panel system is made from carbon banking renewable materials timber and straw.

Following a successful trial, HM Prison and Probation Service and construction company Agile Homes will look to ramp up production at HMP Leyhill and expand to other prisons.

Additionally, the South West Reducing Reoffending Partnership and West of England Combined Authority will also plan to deliver homes in this way.

This will ensure more offenders can secure vital skills and financial support to help them gain employment and rented accommodation.

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “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 address a nationwide affordable housing crisis.”

Cllr Steve Darling, Torbay Council leader, “This pilot project has the ability to positively influence so many lives.”

Craig White, CEO of Agile Homes, said: “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.”

Lance Harris, of HM Prison and Probation Service, said: “This will enable offenders to gain valuable work experience, skills, qualifications and the opportunity for employment, both in custody and following their release.

“The homes will benefit people who would otherwise struggle to get on the housing ladder.”