Rhinos expand prisons project

Leeds Rhinos Foundation's Onside project, which uses sport to prepare prisoners for successful release back into society, has received funding to increase its pioneering work in 2018.

Since launching at the end of 2016, Onside has seen 60 inmates, all serving the final six months of their prison sentences, successfully complete the 10-week course across the two prisons.

The two prisons in which the project operates, HMP Leeds and HMP Wealstun, have been so impressed by its impact that they have now extended funding throughout 2018.

The course combines sport and physical activity with classroom learning sessions to work on each inmate's personal development, covering areas such as dealing with anger, behaviour and consequences, healthy living and building confidence and self-esteem.

There are also practical elements to boost offenders' employability after release, such as CV-building, teamwork, communication and interview practice. Links with local businesses also offer employment opportunities on release.

Of the 60 offenders who have completed the course so far, many have since moved into employment, training and education, with some returning as mentors to positively inspire other inmates.

Dan Busfield, the Leeds Rhinos Foundation Partnership Manager, said: "We are delighted to secure further funding from the prisons to continue what has become one of our most impactful education programmes over the past 12 months, seeing a positive impact on society, whereby offenders work towards building a more successful life away from crime."

The Onside project recently received recognition in the Ministry of Justice's 'Review of Sport in Youth Justice', conducted by the Alliance of Sport for the Desistance of Crime and commissioned by Dr Phillip Lee MP. Dr Lee said he was "hugely impressed" by the Leeds Rhinos Foundation's work.

Visit www.leedsrhinosfoundation.org or follow @RugbyLeeds on Twitter.