Cardiff City FC Community Foundation staff supporting the Rainbow Laces Campaign at the Prison in conjunction with prisoners on the programme (not in photo).
Cardiff City FC Community Foundation is the official charity of Cardiff City Football Club. Established in 2009, our mission is to use the unique appeal of Cardiff City FC to change lives.
Our goal is to support children, young people and families in South Wales to achieve their full potential.
People living in South Wales face a number of challenges including the impact of health, education and employment inequalities.
We want a future where our communities are more prosperous, healthier, more resilient and cohesive; a future where children, young people and families achieve their full potential regardless of inequalities.
Within the Foundation we base our delivery themes around three key outcomes: healthier and more active lives, education and employment, and working towards the reduction of offending and reoffending.
Prison Engagement Programmes
Prison engagement programmes are present on the Football Clubs’ Social Inclusion agenda but are not compulsory. Prison engagement aligns itself to our vision within Cardiff City as we continue to build on delivery, with a view to impact on those in custody as part of our day to day work.
The ‘Premier League Works’ programme is delivered by 24 Football Clubs in a variety of ways (In Custody/in the Community) in partnership with the Professional Footballers Association and the Prince’s Trust. It provides young people with support to develop their personal and social skills giving them the confidence and the experience they need to make a positive transition back into education, access training or gain meaningful employment.
The aim is to work collectively to shape and deliver a programme as a support mechanism for offenders, in readiness for their resettlement from custody. This affords 20 young people between 18 and 25 years of age an opportunity to engage and progress with us every year.
What we deliver is not football focused, but the sporting theme allows us to deliver a programme which subtly integrate the skills required to succeed in a game throughout – this allows us to provide both qualifications and experience that inspires, instils self-belief, and increases confidence to progress in a positive direction in those who engage on the programme.
The opportunities are there for participants to undertake qualifications, take up work placements (within the prison) as well as designing and participating in a community action project which contributes towards developing fundamental skills such as team work and communication.
The programme aligns to a person-centred approach which is reflected through the flexibility and ability to modify course content to provide a relevant and worthwhile experience to work towards positive outcomes such as:
Making Young People More Employable
Reducing the Likelihood of Reoffending
We actively upskill people and provide opportunities for realistic discussion on a neutral ‘playing field’ as we offer post release support in the form of additional programmes, volunteering as well as mentoring and signposting.
“J” was a participant on the first Premier League Works Programme delivered within HMP Parc. J was released from Prison in September 2017 and made contact with Cardiff City FC Foundation in November 2017 with a request to carry out a volunteering role.
J has started to volunteer with the Foundation in January 2018 with the Walking Football Programme and he has been asked to give a summary of his time on the programme and his personal journey to date:
“I enjoyed the course and it helped me with the qualifications that were on offer to me and I was focused on gaining employment following my release to support my young family. Due to my offence, I have had to look at different options for employment which has resulted in me now earning money in a physical job which wouldn’t be my first choice.
The time I spent in Prison allowed me to reflect on my life and my previous lifestyle choices and made me look at things in a different light, it really isn’t worth losing what I already had in my life.
The time I spent on the Programme with staff from the Foundation gave me confidence as he had been through similar experiences to me and he had chosen to turn his life around so there was no reason why I couldn’t do the same – the choice was mine.
Since my release I made contact with the Foundation and met with their staff at the Cardiff City Stadium which was a big step forward for me and I have an element of trust in the staff and I felt comfortable to put myself forward for volunteering in a coaching role.
After arrangements were put in place for me to attend the Walking Football session. I was apprehensive before I started the first session at the House of Sport, but I was made to feel really welcome by staff and other volunteers and it felt good.
Ideally, I would like to progress onto volunteering with the KICKS project as I would like to support the Coaches who work young people in communities across Cardiff.”
The theme of Employability and Interpersonal Skills are intertwined throughout the course content as a means of supporting and mentoring the participants to move closer to the job market and reflect on the ‘somewhat’ materialistic things in their lives.
One reason football isn’t the key theme is the fact that we are not recruiting or scouting for the next ‘Ronaldo’; we are supporting the ‘game’ by focusing on passion and skills as we strive to be active within the remit of reducing offending and reoffending within our communities across South Wales.
Following the success of the Programme, we are now building on our post release support following consultation with the Probation Service and associated Charities such as The Wallich to work on supporting the reduction of reoffending rates. Category D Prison referrals are starting to come through as the participants on our programmes make contact nearer to their release date – i.e. Prisoners working with our Foundation as part of their Released On Temporary License (ROTL), to sourcing training opportunities i.e. Level 2 Qualifications as well as Enterprise Projects.
In addition we are sharing good practice with Fulham FC (HMP Feltham) and are now in the process of introducing a similar employability project into HMP Cardiff.
Elaine Williams is the Employability and Skills Coordinator within Cardiff City FC Community Foundation and started the role in November 2017. After graduating from Cardiff University in 1995, Elaine moved into a role within the Public Sector. Prior to this role, Elaine worked for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service for 22 years of which she was an Emergency Control Operator, an Arson Reduction Advisor and the latter part of her career she was a Youth Development Manager.
The move into this role was a new, refreshing personal challenge where she can bring her strengths of networking and a means of ‘making things happen’ to her work within a Charity.
Her interests are based around family life, life in a campervan and Elaine has a passion for Football and follows Cardiff City FC as a season ticket holder and admits to not having a passion to ever play the game… just shout from the sidelines!
You may also be interested in reading:
Students with Conviction (blog)