Doncaster Rovers have teamed up with Doncaster Prison as part of a nationwide project allowing inmates to become trained football coaches.
32 Premier League and English Football League clubs have signed up for the Twinning Project which aims at tackling the UK’s high re-offending rates.
Launched last year, the scheme 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 reoffending which is a huge cost to the country and local communities.
Through the initiative Rovers, in conjunction with other football bodies, will work with PE officers from the Prison Service to deliver coaching, stewarding, lifestyle skills, and other employability-based qualifications to prisoners to help them prepare for release.
Additionally there will also be refereeing courses which will provide inmates a vital route to paid employment - proven key factor in reducing reoffending and helping prisoners to rebuild their lives.
The full list of clubs to sign up for the scheme is: Arsenal, Aston Villa, AFC Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol Rovers, Bury, Cardiff City, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Doncaster Rovers, Everton, Exeter City, Fulham, Leeds United, Leicester City, Lincoln City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Millwall, Newcastle United, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, Plymouth Argyle, QPR, Rochdale, Rotherham United, Southampton, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Tranmere Rovers and West Ham United.
The first courses will be launched during the second quarter of 2019.
And the scheme is in discussions with the remaining UK professional football clubs and expects to announce the next group of clubs over the coming months.
David Dein MBE, former Vice Chairman of Arsenal and the Football Association, and founder of the Twinning Project commented: “Since its launch, the Twinning Project has seen huge interest and enthusiasm from across the UK football family and Prison Service.
“We have also had interest from international clubs and prisons, as well as other sporting organisations, who wish to replicate what we are doing.
“It is testament to the vision and purpose of the Twinning Project that such a large group of football clubs have agreed to participate in trying to tackle a difficult problem in our society. We are in active talks with many other clubs and look forward to welcoming them to the Twinning Project as we roll out as widely as possible across football and the Prison Service.
“Among the first 32 clubs, a number of their Community Departments are already doing great work with their local prisons while others will be starting for the first time. Together as part of the Twinning Project, we will build on this momentum, bring structure and help to use football as a force for good that will deliver real change for people and communities across the UK.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “I am delighted to see so many football clubs supporting this wonderful project.
“Rehabilitation should be at the heart of every prison and although I am clear that offenders are sent to prison as punishment, they should leave with it having been a real turning-point in their lives.
“The Twinning Project provides opportunities for offenders to do just that, a true chance for change, which offers dedicated training opportunities, coaching qualifications and fosters skills such as teamwork, leadership and confidence - ultimately helping to reduce reoffending.
“I want to extend my thanks to David for his dedication and determination in kick-starting this work and I am confident that together we can make a real difference and help prisoners turn their backs on crime.”