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Pilot project set to train prison leavers for physical activity sector roles

The Alliance of Sport is collaborating in a pilot project led by ukactive to provide people leaving prison with training and employment opportunities in the physical activity sector.

The project will see vetted offenders in category D prisons, and those out on release on temporary license (ROTL), trained for roles including lifeguards, personal trainers, group exercise instructors, caterers and front-of-house receptionists.

People trained on the scheme will be guaranteed an interview for such roles once they are released from custody.

Virgin Active and Places Leisure are joining ukactive in the endeavour, which is scheduled to launch early in 2019.

“It’s a huge opportunity to give people that crucial second chance in life,” said project leader Jade Hall, ukactive’s Senior Public Affairs Officer.

“We’re really keen to leverage the power of physical activity and mobilise our sector behind this initiative. Not only is it good for community outreach but it’s a great opportunity for the operators involved to strengthen their workforce.”

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

The project was initially inspired by the appearances of Alliance of Sport Ambassador John McAvoy and Dr. Phillip Lee MP at the ukactive National Summit in November 2017. Their message resonated with many ukactive members and led to a push to get involved in using physical activity as a rehabilitation tool for those caught up in crime and anti-social behavior.

Alliance of Sport Co-Founder and Chair, James Mapstone, joined an initial round-table discussion that also involved the Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).

Participants in the pilot are set to visit HM Prison Standford Hill in Kent in November to progress the initiative.

Professor Rosie Meek, author of the recent Independent Review of Sport in Justice, has already pledged her support for the project in a Guardian article last month.

She wrote: “It’s just a start but this type of joined-up approach could inject new hope into our system and really change lives.”

James Mapstone added: “This project is a superb example of how a joined-up, collaborative approach between the community and custody can give prison leavers the best possible chance of leading a fulfilling life through sport and employment opportunities.

“We look forward to supporting ukactive – who have recently joined our Steering Group – to forge fruitful partnerships within the secure estate that will be to the benefit of all stakeholders and society as a whole.”

  • Read about the Alliance of Sport’s role in a joint project between three professional football clubs and local prisons here.
  • Read about the Alliance of Sport’s contribution and response to the Independent Review of Sport in Prisons here.
  • Read how one former inmate is now back in prison using football as a tool to rehabilitate those held in custody here.

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