A group of female prisoners in Essex have successfully passed a football coaching qualification after working with the Chelsea FC Foundation.
Using money provided by Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston, the foundation delivered the coaching course to 12 female prisoners at HMP Holloway.
The women had little to no knowledge of football before the course and the ten that passed now have a FA Level 1 Award in Coaching Football.
Andrew Morgan, Essex Development Manager at the Chelsea Football Club Foundation, said: "The participants enrolled on the course did exceptionally well, given they were outside of their comfort zone.
"On the first day the majority of the candidates, who rarely or never had an interest in football were very nervous and reluctant to speak in front of a group.
"By the final day they had progressed to a stage where they delivered a 20-minute coaching session under assessment criteria. It was also interesting to see that, during short breaks the women often enjoyed playing football or wanted to participate in some form of sport. Overall the feedback from the participants was very positive, which is fantastic.”
One of the women who took part said: "At first I wasn’t too sure but then thought I would give it a go.
"I thought it was a brilliant course and the coaches were very good. I have quite low confidence but felt this course helped and the coaches encouraged us to do our best.
"This is a qualification that I didn’t think I would ever get, let alone do, so I’m grateful for having the opportunity to do so.”
Lindsay Whitehouse (pictured), Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and a former Deputy Governor of HMP Chelmsford, said: "In my experience what prisoners are receptive to is practical learning outside of the traditional classroom environment.
"Using football coaching allows the women to develop a whole range of skills – such as organisation, relationship and team building, performance review – which are transferable to the workplace.
"Also for those that achieve the qualification, potential employers, looking at taking a chance on an ex-offender, will have the added attraction of the credibility that a qualification from Chelsea brings.
"More crucially, for offenders who are shown that they can achieve something meaningful, the likelihood is that this will encourage them to continue in that vein during their life on the outside and help to stop any cycle of reoffending.”
The Chelsea Football Club Foundation has made a further bid for funding from the OPCC to deliver the course to more serving female and male prisoners from Essex.