Football project aims to reduce reoffending

By Alan Quick   |   Editorial Manager/Photojournalist   |
Tuesday 21st June 2022 6:30 am
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Hilton Freund observes a training session at HMP Exeter delivered by Scott Walker from Exeter City Community Trust.
Hilton Freund observes a training session at HMP Exeter delivered by Scott Walker from Exeter City Community Trust. (ECFC )

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THE power of football is being used to help prevent reoffending by prisoners leaving HMP Exeter.

Staff from Exeter City Community Trust, the partner charity of Exeter City FC, have been delivering training and offering “through the gate” support to prisoners as part of the Twinning Project, the official umbrella for all collaborative projects between football and HM Prison and Probation Service.

The Twinning Project’s chief executive Hilton Freund visited Exeter last week to meet the latest group to be supported to rebuild their lives as they leave prison.

As well as training and development whilst the prisoners are in HMP Exeter, Exeter City Community Trust supports them with “living on the outside”, offering one-to-one help and advice around housing management, employability and financial aid.

To-date, 26 prisoners have benefited from taking part in the Twinning Project in HMP Exeter.

Scott Walker, head of participation at Exeter City Community Trust, said the men responded well to the mix of activity and learning the programme offers.

He added: “A previous participant on the course contacted me just to tell me how well he was doing. He wanted to share with me that he had sorted his life out and was in a very good place. This individual spent most of his life in and out of prison and told me how he had turned his life around after taking part in the programme.

“The Twinning Project is something I am very proud of and always excited to deliver. Exeter City Community Trust has worked closely with HMP Exeter to provide a fun and engaging programme, which runs for eight weeks.”

Scott added: “The programme includes leadership, physical activity and highlights interpersonal skills that not all individuals have. It enables participants to build self-confidence and knowledge on how to communicate with people and engage with others in a positive way. All those who complete the course can build on it in the future, if they wish.

“Not every individual will use the skills they have learnt but for the time they are on the programme they are doing something positive and productive.”

The 10 prisoners in the current cohort received a credited Developing Leadership Through Football Award from the FA and were presented with their certificate by Hilton.

Mike Reece, Physical Education Instructor, said: “I could not be prouder to be involved with the Twinning Project at HMP Exeter. We are very fortunate to partner with Exeter City Community Trust and its dedicated team of staff.

“The course is extremely beneficial in building confidence and giving people an opportunity to become more equipped to lead sports sessions. Staff from the Trust have been a valuable asset, not only coaching but supporting these people upon release.

“The feedback from those who have completed the course is always positive. We hope it will eventually help towards reducing re-offending statistics. Additionally, those participating are building towards becoming better citizens on release which is part of our Governors’ vision here at HMP Exeter.”

Launched in October 2018, the Twinning Project aims to bring together professional football clubs and prisons across the UK to use football as a catalyst for change to provide real opportunities to better prepare prisoners for release, find employment and reduce re-offending which is a huge cost to the country and local communities.

The project is backed by the Government and the UK’s leading football bodies, including the Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, PFA, PGMOL and LMA.

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