Chelsea Football Club has supported and delivered the Premier League Reading Stars (PLRS) project in local libraries for over five years. The project has had a huge impact on hundreds of families across the country. It uses the book choices of Premier League footballers to inspire and motivate participants to read more for pleasure.
During 2008, the National Year of Reading, Chelsea FC's education department has worked in partnership with staff at HMP Wandsworth to deliver a PLRS Prison Extension Project.
The project aims to use the key ingredients of the successful PLRS programme to engage offenders in learning, to raise the profile of the prison library and use the power of football to increase enjoyment of reading.
The project resources were provided by the Premier League Reading Stars project, which is funded by the Football Foundation, The Premier League, The National Literacy Trust and The Arts Council.
HMP Wandsworth is a large prison in South West London, holding 1456 prisoners and is one of the largest prisons in Europe.
Successful and motivating accredited education and training courses are already offered to offenders at this prison including peer support programmes and vocational skills such as Bricklaying, Plastering, Painting and Decoration and has a motorcycle maintenance centre opening in the near future. This short PLRS partnership project is not an accredited learning programme, but offers PE, library and education staff the opportunity to link into the inspiration provided by the link with a Premier League football club.
The project was led by Chelsea FC Education Manager, Suzi Raymond. Thank you to David Asker, Head of Learning and Skills for his support and enthusiasm. Special thanks to all the participants and staff, particularly to Oliver Ababio and Mark Wells of HMP Wandsworth. We are grateful for the support of Chelsea FITC's Ian Jordan, Daniel Gill and Daniel Greatley as well as author Rick Glanvill and ex-Chelsea player Paul Canoville.
We would also like to thank Maria McNicholl, Head of Quality and Development at the St Giles Trust for her help in identifying and establishing contacts between the partners and Ralph Newbrook, PLRS Project Manager.
2. The Chelsea FC/HMP Wandsworth project aims:-
-To use footballers as positive role models
-To use their selected adult and children's book choices to raise interest in reading
-To increase enjoyment of reading
-To increase use and enjoyment of the library/ education facility
-To increase literacy levels
-To increase enjoyment and participation in sport
3. The sessions
The project sessions consisted of a game of two halves, with a one hour library/education session followed by a one hour coaching session. Chelsea Football Club's education and community team delivered the six PLRS sessions with support from prison staff.
The education sessions involved valuable skills such as teamwork, group discussion, reading, writing, speaking and listening. The participants learnt about Premier League footballers' favourite books and reading habits. One of the sessions was an author visit and the group took part in a Q&A session with Chelsea FC historian and author, Rick Glanvill. Rick talked inspirationally about developing ideas in writing and about his latest work, Paul Canoville's biography 'Black and Blue'. This sensational book would easily grab the attention of even the most reluctant of readers.
During the football coaching sessions the group worked together to learn skills and drills and learn about the importance of exercise. The participants were invited to discuss the links between literacy skills and football and also to choose books to keep from the project.
The sessions were well-received and had a positive impact on staff and participants in the prison. We hope to continue and to develop the links made through this partnership.
4. Chelsea FC's Reading Star 2008
Ricardo Carvalho is Chelsea FC's Reading Star for 2008. Ricky said:
"I think that reading is very important. It is a good way to relax and to use your imagination. I like reading magazines and also things about football or sport in general."
5. The project celebration event
Paul Canoville attended the final project celebration event on Friday 26th September along with Chelsea FC directors Chris Alexander andAlan Shaw.The participants were presented with their certificates and joined a team photograph (pictured) on the new prison Astroturf. During the afternoon staff from HMP Wandsworth also had the opportunity to visit Stamford Bridge.
National Magazine Week - September 29th-October 5th is National Magazine Week, celebrating the 2,600 magazines bought every minute in the UK. In support of the initiative the education department has donated a number of sports-based magazines to the Prison Library and will also continue to send copies of the Chelsea magazine throughout the season.