Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Changing Lives Through Sport

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Successful prison programme gets backing to continue in 2018
9 January 2018, 8:00
By Dan Phillis
Leeds Rhinos Foundation will be helping to prepare more offenders for release back into society in 2018 after receiving funding from the HMP Leeds and HMP Wealstun to continue delivery of the charity's Onside project.
Since launching at the end of 2016, Onside has seen over 60 inmates, who are all serving the final six months of their prison sentences, successfully complete the 10-week course across the two prisons.

Using the power of sport, the project combines classroom learning and physical activity sessions with a focus on confidence building, personal development and acquiring the skills and knowledge to successfully re-integrate back into society and find employment upon release.

The new funding will see the project delivered to more offenders in the new year with three programmes running at both HMP Leeds and Wealstun continuing the collaboration with West Yorkshire Police IOM 6th Hub, who organise the recruitment and selection of prisoners for the course.

Dan Busfield, Leeds Rhinos Foundation Partnership Manager, said: "We are delighted to secure further funding from the prisons to continue what has become one of our most impactful education programmes over the past 12 months, seeing a positive impact on society whereby offenders work towards building a more successful life away from crime.

"There have been a number of positive outcomes from the project so far, with released prisoners moving into employment, training and education and in some case returning to the programme as mentors to positively inspire other inmates."

The 10-week delivery covers a range of personal development areas addressing anger triggers, living healthy, behavior and consequences, building confidence and self-esteem as well as covering practical areas to aid in the pursuit of employment after release such as CV building, team work and communication and interview practice.

Justin Drake, Head of Reducing Reoffending at HMP Leeds, said: "The partnership has been massive between Leeds Rhinos Foundation, West Yorkshire Police and both prisons now with HMP Leeds and Wealstun.

"You need lots of different elements to reduce recidivism, what we have got here is a package that not only provides education within the jail but follows them outside of the jail as well and picks up with other partnership agencies that can help them sustain employment, housing and give them the resettlement needs that they require."

As a shining example of sport's ability to have a positive impact on individuals lives, the project has recently received recognition in the review of sport in the custodial setting commissioned by Dr Phillip Lee MP on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, highlighting the project's benefit to individuals and society at large.

Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee said: "I am hugely impressed by the work Leeds Rhinos are doing at Leeds and Wealstun prisons to support offenders and help give them the skills they need for release.

"I want to do more to reform offenders in custody and I have commissioned a review to understand whether sport can help play a part in that. I am determined that offenders are better equipped to address their offending behaviour and make a fresh start."

Through links between the prisons and with West Yorkshire Police, the programme has been tailored to give inmates the chance to see the project through to its completion and provide support outside of custody.

Emma Rowbottom, West Yorkshire Police Sergeant said: "West Yorkshire Police know how important Integrated Offender Management is and how by working together with partners we can achieve outcomes by giving the Offender the opportunity to change. Offenders are costing the tax payer millions of pounds every year to deal with within the system.

"The Project was designed to focus on breaking the cycle, giving offenders the opportunity to change through sport and teaching them much needed life skills. I am pleased that the Prison have recognised the success of the project and we look forward to working with the foundation and the Prison to ensure the success of the project for the coming 12 months."

For more information on Leeds Rhinos Foundation's Onside programme contact Janet.Sylvester@leedsrhinosfoundation.org

Hear from the Head of Reducing Re-offending at HMP Leeds Justin Drake and Leeds Rhinos Foundation Partnership Manager Dan Busfield about the partnership here

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