GET ONSIDE! is helping to reduce reoffending rates at the Feltham Young Offenders Institute and Saracens foundation manager Sam Fulling believes the programme has the potential to be rolled out across the country.
Saracens received the BreakThru Award, supported by BT Sport, at the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group Premiership Rugby Community Awards at the House of Commons on Wednesday night after their GET ONSIDE! programme captured the imagination of the judges.
The BreakThru Award is designed to reward a programme or one-off piece of activity that delivers a significant social change in their community.
GET ONSIDE! is a personal development project that uses rugby to engage young men at Feltham Young Offenders Institute, helping them to make life changes in order to reduce their chances of reoffending and to support their resettlement after release.
The statistics are startling – while the national reoffending rate is 78 per cent, of those who have come into contact with GET ONSIDE! the reoffending rate is just 10 per cent.
The programme is based around rugby’s core values – be it on the field or in the classroom – and Fulling says more exciting plans are afoot.
“There are huge possibilities for the project, the model we’ve created is certainly replicable across a number of different areas across other young offenders institutes or category prisons for adults,” said Fulling, who was presented the award by the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP Minister of State for Employment and Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive, Premiership Rugby.
“It could be taken by the Ministry of Justice or another partner and replicated on a national scale, which is exciting, and for us it’s about sustainability and what we can do in the prisons.
“Creating a rugby academy side based on a league system rather than one-off games, which would be a regular thing for them to buy into especially in longer sentences. There are so many more things we can do upon release too, expanding employment possibilities and developing partnerships.
“We have support from across the club which is the crucial aspect for us, it’s about using the Saracens collateral whether that’s the players or our business staff talking about how they’ve developed a career.
“A lot of players go in helping to mentor the guys and coach inside the prison, we’ve also had a team training session inside the prison and that was a phenomenal thing to be able to do.”
GET ONSIDE! also ensures that the young offenders involved with the programme aren’t just left to fend for themselves upon their release.
“There’s a lot of pride to be taken from it, the project staff have worked so incredibly hard not just in the prison but on the day of their release,” Fulling added.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a phone call at 11pm or midnight, just someone needing a chat and some advice on where to go next. To see the hard work being rewarded is very pleasing.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we know rugby can be a driver for social change.”