Ben's Story

Ben had found himself at rock bottom, serving a sentence for drug-related crime; his life had spiralled out of control. He had taken the wrong path and knew that something had to change. During his rehabilitation he saw an opportunity through the ROTL (Release on Temporary Licence) team within Feltham Youth Offenders Institute (YOI). Ben was serving a sentence with YOI when he was given the opportunity to apply for Vi-Ability’s unique ‘Run The Club’ programme in partnership with the Fulham FC Foundation. Inmates have to demonstrate extremely good behaviour and meet an in-depth criteria to be eligible for ROTL which takes place during the final third of their sentence.

What inspired Ben to join the programme was the fact that it’s based at Craven Cottage (the home of Fulham Football club), a keen football fan, he really needed to be in a motivational environment where he could see first-hand how the club works. He went on to explain that the ‘Run the Club’ programme was unlike any other he had been faced with during his time at school or within the institute. He went on to say ‘’it really puts your needs first, regardless of your background everyone is equal and makes you feel a part of something special’’.

Ben initially had some worries that he was going to struggle to engage with other individuals on the programme, as they were completely unknown to him. He said; “I was worried about meeting others and what they would think of me, but Vi-Ability made it really relaxed for everyone and accepted all of us for who we are. It allowed us to be reintroduced to the public again within a controlled and safe environment.”

The ‘Run the Club’ programme surprised our learner Ben as he explained that there were so many different avenues to sport. He went on to say, “The focus on the non-playing side was the most interesting, you never think you can be involved in sport and how things like marketing, catering, and community programmes all sit under one roof.” The programme really opened Ben’s eyes. During the 8-week experience, his confidence and motivation levels grew from strength to strength resulting in him feeling ready to enter employment.

When Ben enrolled with Vi-Ability he was simply serving his sentence with very little responsibility, taking each day as it came. After gaining these experiences and qualifications, Ben really found his feet and became a leader within the participating group, supporting others and became a real asset to the team. He found a passion for working within a group showing really good leadership qualities, which can be transferable across many different jobs.

Because of his transformational experience, Ben kept in contact with his Vi-Ability tutor and shared with us some exciting news. The experiences he gained with Vi-Ability had really transformed his life and he has now been released from Feltham YOI and has gained employment at a big restaurant chain. He’s found a real passion for catering and is now completing further qualifications to achieve this ambition to become a chef, where he can utilise his leadership and team working skills to their to full.

You may be like Ben, or know someone like Ben. What’s important is the first step that he took, Vi-Ability stayed the course with him to ensure he stayed on the right road and had the right support at each hurdle. If you want to know more about ‘Run the Club’ then email courses@vi-ability.org or you can sign up online

NOTE: Names have been changed to protect client identities