Teamwork helps tackle reoffending through football
A GROUP of female prisoners from Essex now have a football coaching qualification thanks to the Chelsea FC Foundation and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC).
The Chelsea Football Club Foundation – the charitable and community arm of the club – has long delivered a coaching programme to serving prisoners as part of their rehabilitation.
Using money provided by the OPCC under the New Initiatives Fund – which is cash made available to community projects with the aim of reducing crime and reoffending – the foundation recently delivered the coaching course at HMP Holloway to serving female prisoners from Essex.
The 12 women – who are from Chigwell, Basildon, Waltham Abbey and Colchester and serving sentences for a range of offences – had little to no knowledge of football before taking part in the course. Ten of the 12 successfully passed and now have an FA Level 1 Award in Coaching Football.
Andrew Morgan, Essex Development Manager at the Chelsea Football Club Foundation, said: “The participants enrolled on the course did exceptionally well, given they were outside of their comfort zone.
“On the first day the majority of the candidates, who rarely or never had an interest in football were very nervous and reluctant to speak in front of a group.
“By the final day they had progressed to a stage where they delivered a 20-minute coaching sessions under assessment criteria. Ten out of 12 prisoners passed the qualification, a fantastic achievement.
“It was also interesting to see that, during short breaks the women often enjoyed playing football or wanted to participate in some form of sport. Overall the feedback from the participants was very positive, which is fantastic.”
One of the women who took part said: “At first I wasn’t too sure but then thought I would give it a go.
“I thought it was a brilliant course and the coaches were very good. I have quite low confidence but felt this course helped and the coaches encouraged us to do our best.
“This is a qualification that I didn’t think I would ever get, let alone do, so I’m grateful for having the opportunity to do so.”
Lindsay Whitehouse, Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner and himself the former Deputy Governor of HMP Chelmsford, said: “In my experience what prisoners are receptive to is practical learning outside of the traditional classroom environment.
“Using football coaching allows the women to develop a whole range of skills – such as organisation, relationship and team building, performance review – which are transferable to the workplace.
“Also for those that achieve the qualification, potential employers, looking at taking a chance on an ex-offender, will have the added attraction of the credibility that a qualification from Chelsea brings.
“More crucially, for offenders who are shown that they can achieve something meaningful, the likelihood is that this will encourage them to continue in that vein during their life on the outside and help to stop any cycle of reoffending.”
The Chelsea Football Club Foundation has made a further bid for funding from the OPCC to deliver the course to more serving female and male prisoners from Essex.
Offering football coaching training to serving prisoners is just one way in which cash from the OPCC has been used by the Chelsea Football Club Foundation.
The £33,600 given to the foundation by the OPCC in 2014/15 has also been used to deliver training to secondary schools and pupil referral units in Essex to provide alternative education to pupils at risk of leaving school or offending. They take part in a 10-week programme of theory and practical sessions to improve behaviour, discipline and respect.
The money has also funded evening football coaching sessions in Jaywick, Harwich and Walton-on the-Naze to engage young people in positive activity.