CFO Pilots

The CFO is continuously looking at ways to improve outcomes for programme participants. Ahead of each commissioning round, best endeavours are made to find opportunities to trial new ways of working, building upon any emerging findings or evaluation recommendations made in relation to the current portfolio of CFO contracts. At an early stage of development for the upcoming CFO Evolution programme it was felt that the more successful aspects of the community-based CFO Activity Hubs programme had potential to be transferred into a custodial setting.

Slight variations on the models were posited and so a decision was taken to prioritise these for any pilot activity to
a) test the model generally
b) determine which variants worked best and in which context, and
c) iron out any general, not readily-apparent operational issues in order to inform any future large-scale roll-out as part of CFO Evolution.

Current CFO Pilots

In practice, the locations, respective cohorts, and duration of the pilots was driven as much by where monies were able to be freed up within the existing programmes and local stakeholder buy-in as much as any fixed plan. However, the three operational pilots are presenting an opportunity to trial a broad range of approaches and as such are proving invaluable to informing the design, commissioning, and operational readiness of CFO Evolution.

Where are the pilot programmes

We currently have three CFO pilots.

  • The Hamlet at HMP Drake Hall, supporting non-engaging women
  • The Community Living Unit (CLU) at HMP High Down, supporting Lifers and IPP’s
  • The Discovery Wing at HMP Risley, supporting veterans, care leavers and short sentence

The Hamlet

The Hamlet is a new pilot project for Drake Hall and a first for the Women’s Estate. It specifically looks to provide additional support to women who may struggle to engage fully with the range of activities on offer prior to release or to engage pro-socially with their peers.

The programme focuses on a different range of life skills, additional resettlement support, practical up-skilling, and personal development with an aim to encourage better rehabilitation back into society. The pilot project runs until March 2024 with provider Ixion.

Drake Hall has many opportunities and interventions, but some women struggle to understand the importance of attending activities and engaging more fully with the regime. This can be for a number of reasons including lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem or simply not recognize that by engaging will help them progress. These women need additional support, motivation, coaching and guidance to encourage them to fully participate in working towards their own rehabilitation.

Every woman is treated as an individual and is given the time within this safe space where they can open-up without fear of being judged, encouraged to take part in groups and activities and become invested members of The Hamlet community. A structured eight week programme of activities has been developed for The Hamlet where staff collaborate with the women to provide a range of activities which are designed to inspire imagination, explore personal relationships and feelings, problem solving, quiet time and reflection. The Hamlet has a dedicated team who ensure that the unit’s culture is supportive, inclusive, and respectful, they are visible role models and empowered to support women and the challenges faced by this cohort.

The Community Living Unit (CLU)

Those suitable to reside on the CLU are prisoners serving Life and IPP sentences, including those on recall. The unit also includes some prisoners serving Extended Determinate Sentences who’s CRD is not within the next 3 years. The unit focuses on helping prisoners to become release-ready by promotion of independent living skills. The residents on the wing can cook together, practicing their independence but also developing their team building skills. The pilot project runs until March 2024 with provider Shaw Trust.

Shaw Trust case managers engage daily with the men, helping them to access support services and to promote engagement. Following a positive recommendation from the parole board, the case managers can assist the prisoners with pre-release arrangements and establishing support ahead of release. There is also a focus on strengthening family ties so routine family events are arranged for those living on the CLU.

In addition to the above support structures, Shaw Trust staff deliver an eight week programme which includes areas such as goal setting, coping with change, stress management, independent living skills, technology, money management, housing support and parole preparation. Changes made to the open test for ISPs means that an increasing number of indeterminate prisoners are likely to be released from closed conditions without the benefit of engaging in the open estate.

The unit provides a community living environment for indeterminate prisoners, providing an opportunity where self-development and increased independence are promoted and where staff/prisoner relationships are improved. There are dedicated staff working on the unit who have undergone training on indeterminate prisoners and the challenges faced by this cohort. These staff lead on promoting engagement and the community ethos through organising wing events such as wing meetings, games events and health and wellbeing activities.

The Discovery Wing

The Discovery Wing was the first pilot set up by CFO, at HMP Risley. Its participants are veterans with a confirmed service number, care leavers, short sentences and prisoners with few or no family ties. The pilot run to March 2024 with provider Achieve.

The Discovery programme has three distinct phases.

Phase 1 include a programme of motivation and goal setting, mindfulness and coping strategies, benefit advice and housing support and ‘managing the outside world’ course. Sessions are delivered both at a 1-2-1 level and in group sessions.

Phase 2 is in the HMP Risley bike shop where participants can learn new skills, fixing and maintain bikes which are redistributed to various charities for sales or donated to people in need.

Phase 3 is focused on community projects both on the wing, and across the wider prison estate, making HMP Risley a nicer place to be. This includes fixing and upcycling broken furniture, tidying the garden area or identifying other areas for improvement.

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