Step Out Stay Out plan post-release resettlement programme
Pete Bell, founder of the Step Out Stay Out football-based rehabilitation project, is planning to launch a resettlement programme to help reduce reoffending among prison leavers.
Pete, a highly qualified football coach, coach educator and mentor, has been delivering his Step Out Stay Out courses in prisons across his native East Midlands and beyond for many years.
He has long recognised the need to support former prisoners on both sides of the gate to ensure they don’t fall back into old habits post-release and find themselves back inside.
Pete, a former prisoner himself in the 1990s, has now held initial discussions with Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRUs), prisons and his local football club Clifton FC in Nottingham with the aim of forming a partnership to support prison leavers and their desistance from crime.
“I’m in the process of coming up with a pilot programme that will begin in prison with those due for release and continue on the outside,” explains Pete.
The programme would begin with impactful workshops delivered by Pete in jail with the working title ‘Whose sentence?’ These will get participants to think how their actions have impacted on the whole of their family network and discuss issues that have contributed to their offending such as alcohol, drugs and mental health. From there, the residents will look at training and employability options post-release.
After release, Pete is working on creating a Step Out Stay Out community hub at Clifton FC in Nottingham. By next September (Covid-permitting, of course) the club will lease their excellent facilities to Step Out Stay Out for them to offer a range of educational courses for prison leavers on the resettlement programme.
Pete plans to offer bespoke short, sport-based courses led by himself as well as linking up with training agencies and governing bodies, and offering qualifications from 1st4sport, Active IQ, Sports Leaders and other providers that will improve participants’ employability and wellbeing.
The aim is to start the project with 12 weeks’ delivery in HMP Lowdham Grange (pictured above) progressing to more prisons in the East Midlands. Each one will begin with Pete telling his own personal story of incarceration and redemption through football.
Pete says: “We want to look at creating a pipeline from the prison into the community, but those links can only be built if you as a practitioner can get to them in jail first. It’s no good waiting until they’re out of the gate and saying, ‘Hi, I’m Pete, how can I help you?’
“It can be really powerful to get into jails, identify individuals early and build relationships. I’ve done a lot of that work already in HMP Lowdham Grange and built up a good reputation. Once you’ve done the engagement part inside prison, it makes engagement with their families easier when they come out.
“For example, an individual might have problems at home, his son or daughter is offending and might be on a path to prison themselves. We may be able to link up with him or her, signpost them to an organisation and dissuade them from criminality.
“Hopefully my work pre-release will give participants a clearer picture of the reasons behind their offending and its impact on their family, then when they come out they will be less likely to wind up back inside.
“I’m under no illusions, You’ll have successes and you’ll have people who won’t be ready to change, or may never be ready. But if you change one person, they get out and will change their whole family’s lives and futures, then their children will stay out of jail, and so on.”
Pete is excited about the potential of his ‘hub’ at Clifton FC (pictured above) in the heart of an estate in Nottingham with high levels of crime and deprivation.
The club are hoping to have 20 teams in the next three years, with a pipeline of trained coaches to manage them. Pete hopes to start a post-16 education programme with an emphasis on coach education, as well as offering refereeing courses and apprenticeships.
There is now a Friday night football session on the club’s astro turf, funded by Nottingham City Council, which filled a void of weekend provision for youngsters on the estate.
“The club have seen the bigger picture and shown a lot of trust,” says Pete. “I want to develop it into a hub where no matter who you are, you can come and have a coffee, talk to someone if you’re feeling down, have a kickabout, access a range of courses or volunteer. It’s going to be a great place to support a whole variety of local people.”