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Justice

Enabling rehabilitation through sport

As part of new partnership work between HMP Forest Bank and the local community, the prison’s programmes team has made links with the social value arms of professional sports clubs in the Greater Manchester region to work together towards ending the cycle of reoffending.

The Community Trust of Championship football club Bolton Wanderers has been working with offenders at HMP Forest Bank to deliver an incentive-based programme to encourage positive behaviour. During the six-week programme, coaches from the club come into the prison to deliver classroom sessions on leadership skills, followed by outdoor football sessions in the afternoon where offenders develop their own coaching sessions, putting their leadership skills to the test. 

The prison has also formed a working partnership with the Salford Red Devils Foundation to bring a programme used by the rugby league club in the community into a custodial environment. ‘Offload’ is a programme which looks to promote good mental health, rehabilitation and maturity among offenders age 18 to 25. The sessions include both classroom and practical engagement to build a ‘winning mindset’.

The programme facilitators deliver coping and managing strategies, resilience, mindfulness and anger management sessions, rewarded and promoted through physical activity.

English Premiership rugby union club Sale Sharks’ Community Trust has also been delivering a mixture of sessions with young offenders, working on team building, money management, stress management, alcohol and drugs awareness, interview skills and problem solving. As with other partnerships, educational sessions are mixed with interactive practical workshops involving football, tag rugby and circuit training. 

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust leadership course, co-ordinating officer Mike Hand, prison custody officer in the programmes team commented:

It was encouraging to see the rapport and team working skills on show from the offenders, all of whom were from different backgrounds.

“From the first session, they integrated well together and this continued throughout the programme. It was refreshing to see the camaraderie between them and how well they worked as a team. They showed respect to each other, to the coaches and a determination to learn new skills.” 

At their graduation, delegates were rewarded with an official Bolton Wanderers Community Trust certificate, and received a video message from club captain David Wheater. Additional time with a visiting family member was also accommodated once the ceremony came to a close. 

The prison’s programmes team has plans to work with other sports clubs in the future, helping more offenders engage with rehabilitative work through incentivised interventions. 

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April 25, 2019

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