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New project to help get prisoners back on track

England Touch and Koi Sports CIC have announced a ground-breaking project to use Touch to help the rehabilitation of prisoners back into mainstream society.

This agreement will see the two organisations work together to create sustainable education and employment pathways for low-risk offenders and ex-offenders from within mainstream and minority communities, which will lead to an increase in sports participation and inclusion for peer groups.

The programme will be designed and implemented over the next 12 months, with the goal of delivering a successful pilot scheme in one selected prison and then rolled out into a further 10 by the end of 2019. 

An initial six-week of delivered sessions within prisons will be followed by coaching and refereeing courses being delivered to identified individuals as a positive example of ambassador role models for their peers. England Touch and Koi Sports will then work with any individuals who wish to use these internationally recognised qualifications in using Touch to set up a new business opportunity, for example by establishing a league competition in their local area.

Touch is an ideal sport for this type of project, requiring nothing more than a reasonable amount of space, a ball, and enough players to make a game. As with the other codes of rugby, teamwork, honesty and good sportsmanship are strong principles within the Touch community, and with more and more people taking up the sport can provide opportunities for further development in the future, both domestically and overseas.

With prisoner re-offending costing the UK around £15 billion per year, projects such as this can play a key role in helping integrate offenders back into society by using sport, and Koi Sports Director David Johnson-Rayner is looking forward to working with England Touch over the coming months and beyond.

“Everyone at Koi Sports CIC is proud to be working on this project with England Touch,” he said.

Touch is a warm and welcoming team sport played by 25,000 people across the country and by people from many different backgrounds. By its very nature Touch promotes equality and embraces diversity, and we are extremely excited about the many benefits that this initiative will bring to our communities, such as the sustainability of grassroots sport, increased sports participation and inclusion amongst minority communities, and a reduction in the rates of re-offending. 

We do understand that we won't change the world overnight, but by taking direct action now we will deliver impact and sow the seeds of positive change, creating a butterfly effect for future generations to benefit from.”

Gregg Cropper, England Touch Chief Operating Officer says that there is natural synergy between the two organisations.

“The opportunity arose to work with David and Josh at Koi Sports CIC and we jumped at the chance to be their launch partner,” he commented.

“The project that was outlined to us perfectly aligns with our values of respect and being inclusive. We are a sport for all, actively and constantly looking to promote and make available opportunities for participation and this programme does just that. We are setting ourselves some ambitious goals and by working together with Koi Sports CIC we envisage will push current boundaries and if done correctly will be rolled out country wide. 

“This project is really exciting and I’m looking forward to watching it unfold over the coming year.”

Ian Boyd, England Touch Development Director, added:“The opportunity to take Touch into prisons, working alongside Koi Sport, was one that we could not turn down.

“As well as providing the opportunity for more people to learn about and play Touch, we will be supporting more prisoners to enjoy their physical activity. We anticipate that this will impact positively on both their physical and mental health as well as their social engagement.

“The fact that this partnership will continue supporting prisoners not only in prisons, but also as they start to leave prison once their sentence is complete, means that they will receive a wider level of support as they start their journey integrating back into society. Experience tells us that this wider level of engagement, support structure and networking should go a long way towards reducing re-offending rates and allow ex-offenders to move on into their chosen future."   

About Koi Sports

Koi Sports CIC are a Community Interest Company regulated by the UK government to reinvest 100 percent of its profits into safeguarding and fee support for amateur clubs within UK grassroots sport, increased sport participation and inclusion amongst minority communities, and a reduction in UK reoffending rates.

The Minority Communities that Koi Sports serve are those known as BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic), LGBTi (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex), and GRT (Gypsy, Roma, Traveller).

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