On 8 October 2018, Attila Lendvai-Frikkel, HomeLab coordinator for the Veszprém, Hungary pilot project presented the pilot’s experimental scheme for the housing and labour reintegration of former detainees in the Ministry of Interior in Budapest.
The Veszprém branch of Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta (HCSOM) supports the social, housing, and labour market integration of five vulnerable target groups, one of which is former detainees. The period immediately after release from a penitentiary institution is very challenging and risk laden for former inmates. Even though the pertaining legislation (para. 2(a) of Act. CCXL of 2013) stipulates that penitentiary institutions must also support former inmates in social reintegration and adopting a law abiding way of life, limited capacity and resources make full de facto compliance with this requirement extremely complicated. “The former detainee is released at six in the morning. (S)he can then go to the reintegration support centre starting 9 in the morning – but who is going to pick them up at the prison? How will they spend their time before and after the reintegration day centre is open?”, asks Lendvai-Frikkel. In practice, it is himself who picks up the newly released who are open to cooperation; and HCSOM strives to offer them support and consultation throughout their reintegration process.
The Veszprém County detention facility has been well aware of the challenges the newly released face, as well as of their own limited capacities, and the subsequent low effectiveness of existing reintegration support measures. HCSOM has been cooperating with the county detention facility for years, where Lendvai-Frikkel worked together with detainees as well as with the reintegration officer to begin planning life after prison well before a person leaves penitentiary.
Starting early 2018, a Working Group was set up with Lendvai-Frikkel representing social provision and support through HCSOM, which also includes the lead security officer, the lead reintegration officer, the prison chaplain, the inmate psychologist, the probation officer of the County Penitentiary. The HomeLab pilot coordinator reported that in his impression, this formalized cooperation elevates their work to a new and very promising level, establishing long-term, calculable and more systematic cooperation, which began in the framework of HomeLab, as the program provided accommodation and employment services integrated with social work.
On 8 October, Lendvai-Frikkel, HomeLab coordinator on behalf of HCSOM, presented this coordinated approach at the Ministry oft he Interior together with leutenant-colonel Margit Gyarmati, the lead reintegration officer of Veszprém County Prison. The two have shared information on the key conditions of, and challenges to, social reintegration. They emphasized the possibilities of the multi-faceted integrated services provided through HomeLab in bridging many challenging personal and institutional factors, as well as the multi-stakeholder cooperation permitted by the Working Group, and the subsequent “expansion of competency limits”. Lendvai-Frikkel also emphasized HCSOM’s ambition to expand support and prevention services for female former detainees, who face increased risks of stigmatisation and homelessness even within this overall vulnerable target group.
Pictured: Attile Lendvai-Frikkel presents HomeLab project at the Ministry of Interior