The Twinning Project is delighted to announce that it has surpassed its launch target and that 32 Premier League and English Football League clubs - including Brentford have agreed to be part of the programme and ‘twinned’ with their local prisons to help tackle the high UK reoffending rate. Launched on 31 October 2018, The Twinning Project aims to bring together professional football clubs and prisons across the UK to use football as a catalyst for change to provide real opportunities to better prepare prisoners for release, find employment and reduce reoffending which is a huge cost to the country and local communities.
Brentford are among the first 32 football clubs have agreed to engage in the Twinning Project to pair with their local prisons. Through the initiative the clubs, in conjunction with other football bodies, will work with PE officers from the Prison Service to deliver coaching, stewarding, lifestyle skills, and other employability-based qualifications to prisoners to help them prepare for release. Additionally, the PGMOL will deliver refereeing courses. These qualifications will provide a vital route to paid employment which is proven as a key factor in reducing reoffending and helping prisoners to rebuild their lives.
As of today, the following football clubs have agreed to the Twinning Project: Arsenal, Aston Villa, AFC Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol Rovers, Bury, Cardiff City, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Doncaster Rovers, Everton, Exeter City, Fulham, Leeds United, Leicester City, Lincoln City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Millwall, Newcastle United, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, Plymouth Argyle, QPR, Rochdale, Rotherham United, Southampton, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Tranmere Rovers and West Ham United. Brentford will be twinned with HMP Wandsworth, HMP Bronzefield and HMP YOI Feltham. Work in the prisons will be done by Brentford FC Community Sports Trust staff.
The Twinning Project expects that the first courses will be launched during the second quarter of 2019. The project is actively engaging in discussions with the remaining UK professional football clubs and expects to announce the next group of clubs over the coming months.
In recognition of the huge and positive response to the Twinning Project from the prisons, HM Prison and Probation Service has mandated that all employability programmes between football clubs and prisons will become part of the Twinning Project. Several clubs already have valuable programmes with prisons in place, which will now be incorporated into the programme.
The Twinning Project is also in the process of establishing itself as a charitable foundation to help ensure that the project is able to further support smaller and financially constrained clubs and prisons to deliver programmes. More details about the charity will be available in due course. The Twinning Project is backed by the Government and the UK’s leading football bodies, including the Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, PFA, PGMOL and LMA. The scheme will be open to men, women and young offenders in custody.
David Dein MBE, former Vice Chairman of Arsenal Football Club and the Football Association, and founder of the Twinning Project, said: “Since its launch, the Twinning Project has seen huge interest and enthusiasm from across the UK football family and Prison Service. We have also had interest from international clubs and prisons, as well as other sporting organisations, who wish to replicate what we are doing. It is testament to the vision and purpose of the Twinning Project that such a large group of football clubs have agreed to participate in trying to tackle a difficult problem in our society. We are in active talks with many other clubs and look forward to welcoming them to the Twinning Project as we roll out as widely as possible across football and the Prison Service.
“Among the first 32 clubs, a number of their community departments are already doing great work with their local prisons while others will be starting for the first time. Together as part of the Twinning Project, we will build on this momentum, bring structure and help to use football as a force for good that will deliver real change for people and communities across the UK.”
Lee Doyle, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust Chief Executive Officer, said: The Twinning Project epitomises the role that sport can play in creating positive change. It will also demonstrate how football clubs can work as a collective to multiply the effect of a targeted initiative. Regarding Brentford FC’s involvement, as a Club and Trust we are particularly interested in how we can build initial sessional work into sustainable future opportunities."
Cliff Crown, Brentford FC Chairman, said: “The Twinning Project is a fantastic initiative and I am delighted that Brentford are one of the first 32 clubs to engage with the scheme. Our Trust coaches will have a chance to make a real impact on the lives of those in custody and our experience tells us that will make a difference. I have pledged the support of the Club to ensure we do all we can to make our partnerships with Wandsworth, Bronzefield and Feltham a success.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “I am delighted to see so many football clubs supporting this wonderful project. Rehabilitation should be at the heart of every prison and although I am clear that offenders are sent to prison as punishment, they should leave with it having been a real turning-point in their lives.
“The Twinning Project provides opportunities for offenders to do just that, a true chance for change, which offers dedicated training opportunities, coaching qualifications and fosters skills such as teamwork, leadership and confidence - ultimately helping to reduce reoffending. I want to extend my thanks to David for his dedication and determination in kick-starting this work and I am confident that together we can make a real difference and help prisoners turn their backs on crime.”
Rory Stewart OBE FRSL FRSGS MP, Prisons Minister, said: “The Twinning Project is one of the most positive and inspiring projects that I have seen. It takes some of the most famous elite professional organisations in the world, and twins them with some of our most challenged prisons, and by doing so can literally change lives.
“David Dein in particular has been a heroic and patient leader bringing this extraordinary project together. I am hugely grateful to him and to the Community Departments and the clubs themselves who have invested their time and money in engaging with offenders and helping them reintegrate into society and lead more positive lives. This initiative is good for prisoners, and through changing their lives, it is good for society as a whole – we owe the Twinning Project a great debt of gratitude.”