Launched in October 2018, the Twinning Project will see 34 English Football League clubs work with their local prisons and their staff to deliver coaching, stewarding, refereeing and other qualifications to help prisoners prepare for release and hopefully reduce the UK’s high rate of recidivism – two out of every three adults released from a British prison currently re-offend within twelve months.
Now, through Wakefield Trinity, Rugby League will play its part in The Twinning Project. Some of the most deprived areas of the North of England carries Rugby League at the heart of the community, often referred to as a ‘working class sport.’
The Community Trust will work alongside PE officers from the Prison Service to deliver coaching, lifestyle skills and other employability-based qualifications to prisoners to help them prepare for release. Additionally, prisoners will be able to become accredited Level 1 Rugby League Coaches which could provide a vital route to paid employment which is proven as a key factor in reducing reoffending and helping prisoners to rebuild their lives.
The 24-week intervention will support prisoners who are set for release in the short to medium term future with a 12-week first phase while still serving their sentence. The second phase will take place once the prisoner has been released to society, providing opportunities to gain qualifications and accreditations, developing the participant towards becoming work ready and assisting them in that process through sessions at The Mobile Rocket Stadium in Wakefield.
To society, the 85,000 prisoners behind bars come at a £15bn cost across the UK. In fact, the annual cost associated with each prisoner each year is equivalent to the cost per student attending Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield.
Currently, only 17% of offenders enter employment once released. It is no surprise to learn that adults reoffend at a rate of 63.8% within the twelve months immediately after release.
Wakefield Trinity Community Trust, General Manager, Craig Shepherd said; “We can change the way people view ex-offenders. I’m of the belief that everyone deserves a second chance but we owe it to society to help the ones who wish for a better life in the first instance. We are proud to be the first Rugby League club to partner with the Twinning Project and were suitably impressed by everything we heard. The statistics are frightening but if collectively sporting brands can effect change through rehabilitation then what an incredible achievement that will be.”
David Dein, MBE, former Vice Chairman of Arsenal Football Club and the Football Association, and founder of the Twinning Project, commented, “We are delighted that Wakefield Trinity have joined the Twinning Project to help tackle the high UK reoffending rate. Whether its rugby league or football, we believe that sport can be a powerful force for good and the Twinning Project will use this to help people change their lives when they are released from prison. We are excited to partner with Wakefield Trinity as they work hard to make a real difference in their community.”
Jason Swettenham, Head of Prison Industries, Catering and Physical Education in HM Prison Service in England and Wales and co-founder of the Twinning Project, commented, “It’s great to have Wakefield Trinity on board with the Twinning Project. The prison service welcomes their support and we look forward to working alongside them to deliver these life-changing courses.