Prisoners are helping to bring environmentally-friendly ‘eco-pod’ homes to the South-West region, in a pioneering new project led by the South West Reoffending Partnership (SWRRP), supported by all five regional Police and Crime Commissioners.

It is hoped a number will be built in Gloucestershire, subject to planning approval.

 

Under the leadership of professional tradespeople at MMC Homebuilding Ltd, prisoners have been learning a range of modern construction skills while also gaining valuable work experience, supporting their rehabilitation in readiness for their release.  One prisoner commented: “This project is great for getting prisoners used to a day’s work, teamwork, working on your own initiative and also picking up new skills. I’m really confident that when I come out after this sentence I will make a success of my life.”

The eco pod homes offer more than much needed, quality, affordable accommodation for those that need it in the community. They are also easy to relocate, built using low carbon methods and offer high energy efficiency to reduce energy bills for the occupants. Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and chair of the SWRRP, said: ; “We want to help people who have been in the prison system and make sure they have purpose both in prison and outside. All of our communities across the South West want to see people succeed and contribute positively to society and this is a huge opportunity to help achieve that common goal.  I funded a successful trial in Torquay, Devon, and I am delighted the scheme is now being rolled out on a larger scale.”

Using funding secured from the One Public Estate Programme a development framework will be implemented across the South-West. This framework will help to roll out the scheme and enable other public sector organisations to easily access modular housing providers, develop a pipeline of public-sector sites for housing and identify further prison support methods across the South West to assemble and construct the homes.

Using this approach the SWRRP partnership has already identified further public land for up to 70 more homes, and The Church of England has already placed an order for six pods which it will use to house vulnerable people in Gloucestershire. The Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Anglican Bishop to HM Prisons, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, said: “This project is a wonderful and creative way of giving some of the most vulnerable people in society a chance at a fresh start. Living pods have the potential not only to provide homes for those leaving prison but for anyone requiring affordable and accessible accommodation.