The Academy building and sports halls have recently been refurbished thanks to the assistance provided by boys from HMYOI Prison for Juveniles in Werrington.
In recognition of the prison’s support, the Academy has put into place a number of initiatives in partnership with Werrington’s staff to provide education and aspirational activities for various groups of the boys who are aged 15-18.
Chris Taylor is the Head of Education at the Academy: “We appreciate that these boys may have committed serious crimes but many have come from disengaged families or lived in deprived areas and anything we can do at Port Vale to prepare them for when they are released shows that football has a part to play in their future lives.
“Virtually all the boys follow a Premiership or Football League club and this type of cooperation between the Club and the Prison is providing the opportunity for football to put something back into society.”
So far the Academy has donated education materials, football jigsaws, which feature the Premiership and Football League clubs, and at Christmas boys in the prison will be receiving gift sets, quiz books and cards with the funds for this being provided by the Vale Park Community Initiative.
This scheme will now link to one of the prison’s activity days on a Wednesday in February when members of the Academy staff, supported by first team players, will take part in an aspirational workshop at the prison. Several sessions are planned with plenty of activities aimed at encouraging the boys to adopt a more positive lifestyle.
In addition, a group of boys who are approaching release will be visiting Vale Park to discuss career ideas with Academy staff and first team players. It is intended that this will combine with a project when selected boys will take part in re-decorating certain areas of the stadium.
These initiatives come at a time when the Premier League and Football League have asked every club to look at the possibility of linking up with a local prison in the near future, making the Vale Academy ahead of the game in this respect.