By Justin Coleman
I would like to start by saying thank you to Clinks (and many others) for their support and promotion of this research, Dr Rosie Meek and her Team from Southampton University and The Third Sector Research Council (TSRC) for conducting such a great evaluation. 'The Role of Sport in Promoting Desistance from Crime' is an evaluation of the 2nd Chance Project rugby and football academies at Portland Young Offenders Institution; an establishment with a turbulent history of incarcerating some particularly challenging young prisoners. The quantitative analyses confirm improvements to established measures of conflict resolution, aggression, impulsivity and attitudes towards offending. Provisional reconviction data is very encouraging, at 18 per cent (compared to a Portland average of 48 per cent), and testimonies from participants, their families and delivery staff provide a rich illustration of the positive impact of the 2nd Chance sports academy initiative as a cost-effective, innovative and successful intervention. You can Digest and Download the report at: http://www.2ndchanceproject.co.uk/view/16/research--publications
I would like to highlight within this research it should display what 'The Client' think and feel, the user voice that is all too often missing from discussion around the governing S.M.T/Strategy/Funding table. However, the model that had been used to create these results, is from the professional individuals based on the effective partnerships and role identification (Roles that allowed for 'Here & Now Developmental Environment' and 'Pro-Social & Future Planning'). Then onto the Client's motivation to encourage Choice and Pro-Social Cognitive focus on the sport, then their lives.
During the programme using the 'The Three Core Conditions' - Empathy, Congruence and a Non-Judgemental Approach, allowed me to not put my thoughts before the clients, but the clients thoughts and hopes (pro-social of course) before mine, thus empowering the client and putting them at the centre and in the driving seat of Desistance - As Fergus McNeill says 'it should be the client that is the centre of the environmental change'. This allows the client to be 'listened' to, not just 'heard'. It worries me (and the clients in this research and those I am still working with) that so many organisations, bodies or systems and the people within them are trained to think they have the answer for people/clients that don't make the conscious choice for these options or processes?
It is in my opinion a area of debate, fault or issue around the ability to have 'choice', inside Prison. Even when 'voluntary courses' are in place, the client is still told "this will help with your early release!" or "That will look good for the Parole Board if you did it!" or "You will get to enhanced if you do this" or "You won't have to do this outside with Probation if you do this now" this is therefore not a choice for the client, it's a means to an end - not a means to enhance life. I believe in equal balance, Listen to the clients hopes/dreams/needs first, then provide them with the realistic options on how to get there. I would say 99% of the people I work with have pro-social hopes and dreams, but all to often don't think, believe or understand how they can fulfil this, until they are valued enough to give it a go. With a little help and tenacity we can help them 'choose' and live a better life - the results in this research alone suggests this approach works. Sport is a choice and is helping them 'do something they love', thus allows Clients to be in the driving seat and gain control again, learn that to play the game by the rules, and value themselves enough to win as a team or individual, but its their ability to learn and at their pace that gives them autonomy and ultimately gives me as the practitioner a common positive ground from which to motivate, challenge and work! I have the firm belief that Sport can create a better society and help us reduce the numbers of victims within it, so do the clients and they are doing just this through projects like this!!
We also had the launch of the research at Twickenham and I would like to thank the RFU for their ongoing support, for more on this: http://www.2ndchanceproject.co.uk/news/view/53/2nd-chance-launch-re...
I would very much value your feedback, as this will allow the development of work such as this to continue and have a very big part in the Effective Intervention and Resettlement Revolution!
- Do you think your organisation has targets that detract you from being able to listen to the client, and mean you have to direct them?
- How does your organisation ensure you are able to respond to the needs of the clients before your organisations?
- Do you think directing the client is the answer? Or, Do you think clients should be directing the organisation/practitioner? Or, Do you think this should be equal?
- What place do you think sport has in our society?
- How much do you value 'Research' such as this?
Please feel free to comment, or even get in touch!