Vi-Ability ‘Run The Club’ programme at one of Britain’s toughest prisons in England and Wales.

Vi-Ability ‘Run The Club’ programme at one of Britain’s toughest prisons in England and Wales.

November 2015 marked the start of new era for Vi-Ability.

Having been named the ‘UK Social Enterprise of the Year’ earlier in the month, Vi-Ability signed a partnership to work with the London-based Championship-level football club Fulham FC and their leading charitable Foundation. Through a joint venture, Vi-Ability delivered it’s flagship ‘Run The Club’ programme at Feltham Young Offending Institution over 10 weeks.

The Young Offenders Institute has been labelled one of Britain's toughest and most violent prisons in England and Wales, by the Howard League for Penal Reform. Inmates at Feltham represent 48 different gangs, fuelling a 'constant juggling' by prison officers to keep the inmates apart. Feltham are making improvements to inmate welfare to improve overall behaviour, and this involves keeping inmates engaged through jobs, education and training.

Vi-Ability were therefore extremely pleased to partner with Fulham FC Foundation when the unique and ambitious opportunity to take their award-winning learning programme into the Institute, was presented. The programme potentially would signify a new start for the 14 individuals from Feltham Youth Offending Institute.

With only a third of their sentences remaining, it was time for the group to think about life beyond a prison cell and get ready for their transition into the working world.

Vi-Ability not only offered the opportunity to gain qualifications (including its own exclusive BTEC Level 2 in Commercial Sports Management) but, provided one to one support to assist the group with CV writing, interview techniques and developing social skills for work.

James, 17, took part in the 10 week ‘Run The Club’ programme. It taught him that by helping out in the local community, it can help local clubs become more self-sufficient. James really struggled at school and found communicating with others a difficulty. By facilitating work in small groups and our lead trainer Karl creating a relaxed, non-judgemental atmosphere, James eventually gained the confidence to contribute to the conversation and ultimately present his group's work to others; which was a massive step for him. These are skills that can be seen as essential employability skills, and the practice James has had will benefit him hugely upon release when applying for jobs in the future.

Mo also took part in the programme, he had always been a sports fan but didn’t know how he could ever be involved in the industry with his lack of skills. The Sports Leaders UK ‘Go Lead’ Coaching Award also forms part of the 10-week programme, and through this Mo felt he had found his calling. He really enjoyed taking part, and through the practical assessment he led the group well and kept the group fully engaged; demonstrating he had taken onboard all he had been taught earlier,  developing valuable leadership and listening skills.

Bradley, 18 said;

‘’Since taking part in the ‘Run The Club' programme, I really feel my communication skills and self-confidence has massively improved. It’s made me realise how I can be a role model to others (similar to me, who are growing up in this tough environment) and strongly advise them against turning to a life of crime.’’

Bradley recently volunteered on behalf of the Fulham FC Foundation, through his improved confidence and skills he led an event speaking to a group of young people at a behaviour unit within a school. He was able to share his experiences in crime, the mistakes he has made and advise them about the difficulties he has faced in prison.

The ultimate aim is that by gaining such qualifications, and undertaking new experiences there will be a continued positive knock-on effect once the young people are released. Such programmes like ours can be proven to help reduce reoffending rates, and with the right support help with community integration.

Karl, lead Vi-Ability trainer for the programme said,

 "It was an absolute pleasure being given the opportunity to work in such a unique environment, and with such an engaged group of lads who I am sure are going to continue achieving through opportunities that will now present themselves, as a direct result of their efforts to improve as individuals and as a member of their community".
 

The Run The Club Programme teaches key commercial skills to young people, so they can help turn struggling local sports clubs into thriving financially stable businesses; which ultimately have a positive benefit for the whole community.

To date, Vi-Ability has helped change the lives of over 3,000 young people in London, Wales and India; and has reinvested £2.8 million back into local communities.

In the next 5 years, Vi-Ability’s ambition is to transform the lives of a further 10,000 young people around the world. and help them achieve things that they never thought were possible.

To find a course in your area, please follow this link to our website - http://www.vi-ability.org/current-programmes/

Or email courses@vi-ability.org to speak to one of our trainers about the programme.