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Leeds Rhinos set out to tackle domestic abuse

The Leeds Rhinos Foundation has expanded its successful prison education initiative by launching a new project focusing on the perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse.

Since 2016, the charity arm of the Super League club has been delivering multi-sports and team-building activities to men and young people at HMP Leeds and HMP Wealstun to prepare them for re-integration into society through its Onside project.

Now the foundation has launched Tackle It, funded by the Whole Systems Approach to Domestic Abuse Project, which is being implemented by West Yorkshire Police and six other forces.

Tackle It will address issues in ranging from healthy living through to employability, relationships, behaviour and respect, with the aims of reducing re-offending rates and providing domestic abuse offenders with a “life plan” upon their release.

Staff at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation will use sport alongside classroom-based activities to teach transferable skills and motivate, rehabilitate and resettle individuals into society, while encouraging a more successful life away from crime.

Janet Sylvester, project tutor at the foundation, said: “This new project is an extension of the work we already deliver in prisons but will focus more specifically on the behaviours surrounding domestic abuse.

“As well as working with prisoners we will be working with partners such as the probation service and offering support for victims. “We need to look at ways in which we can prevent domestic abuse and intervene earlier.

“Through the Tackle It project we see this as a way of reducing re-offending, and preventing further victims of crime by educating the perpetrator to stop and think about their actions and attitude when they are in prison.”

The Tackle It project will be delivered over the course of six weeks, with inmates receiving two sessions of classroom-based learning and physical activity each week.

Sergeant Rowbottom, from the IOM Prison Hub, said: “This partnership with HMP Wealstun and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation looks at working together to prevent further domestic abuse.

“The project is unique as it has a dedicated worker to work with the domestic abuse victims of those perpetrators in custody.”

Anne Collinson, victim support worker at Leeds Rhinos Foundation, added: “This additional work in the community with the victim and their families has been welcomed.

“It enables us to help to ensure that the required support is in place providing a holistic approach.”