Thirty-two Premier League and English Football League (EFL) clubs have agreed to be part of the Twinning Project programme, through which they will work with local prisons to help tackle the high UK reoffending rate.
The Twinning Project launched on October 31 with the aim of bringing together football clubs and UK prisons to use the sport as a catalyst for change to provide opportunities to better prepare prisoners for release, find employment and reduce reoffending.
The following 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.
The Twinning Project said that the response from clubs has surpassed its initial launch target, adding that it is engaging in discussions with the remaining professional clubs across the country, with more teams expected to be announced over the coming months. The first courses of the government-backed initiative are expected to be launched during the second quarter of 2019.
Clubs will work with PE officers from the prison service to deliver coaching, stewarding, lifestyle skills and other employability-based qualifications to prisoners. The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group will also deliver refereeing courses to prisoners.
David Dein, former vice-chairman of Premier League club Arsenal and the English 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.”