A grant providing activities for individuals on release from prison and those facing complex needs has many positive effects.

Fishing provided as a physical activity

Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy, a dedicated organisation providing support to individuals on release from prison and those facing complex needs in the West Midlands, has embarked on a remarkable journey. 

Recognising the need to promote positive change in the lives of their clients, Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy were supported by Energize STW to obtain a grant from Sport England, allowing them to creatively explore using physical activity as a vehicle of empowerment.

Yellow Ribbon’s commitment to addressing a wide range of needs and abilities led to developing a three-tiered approach, ensuring there was an activity for everyone.

  1. Structured Fitness

These sessions were tailored to accommodate individuals with long-term health conditions. Led by a dedicated personal trainer, a 12-week rehabilitation program incorporated physical activity alongside mindfulness techniques. The focus was not only on improving physical well-being but also on enhancing mental health. You can watch a video here showcasing participants’ amazing experiences.

     2. Fishing 

Yellow Ribbon used some of the grant to invest in fishing equipment, licenses, and coach training. A sustainable activity that has not only enhanced social connectivity, but it has also allowed time for reflection due to the meditative environment it is delivered in.

     3. Multisport

These sessions used physical activity to build social skills, confidence, and foster teamwork and co-ordination. 

There have been many positive outcomes:

  • people's anxiety of trying something new is lower and better managed
  • participants' increased interaction with each other has led to friendships
  • increased personal organisation, for example people organising themselves to arrive at sessions on time
  • a positive, competitive 'can do' attitude and atmosphere has developed where participants are aspiring to do better to achieve more for themselves.

Participants have expressed their gratitude and personal growth:

"This is the first time that I have completed anything in my life, I feel so proud of myself. The PT has helped me so much to get fitter, build my confidence and consider a career as a personal trainer.”

"I suffer from depression and anxiety, but fishing, which I haven't done for 15 years, helped me to relax and keep calm, I have enjoyed it so much that I have now got my own fishing gear so I can take myself to the local lakes.”

“I've not fished since I was a kid. On my first outing, I felt relaxed and calmer, with no thoughts of drinking. I looked forward to going each week, and appreciated being outdoors.”

“The PT has helped build my confidence, lose weight (21lbs) and boost the endorphins. This in turn helps me maintain an even level for my anxiety and depression.”

The ongoing success of the Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy’s activity provision was featured on BBC Midlands Today TV news on 26th October 2023. You can watch a recording of this broadcast here.

Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy on BBC Midlands Today - October 2023

To summarise, we are so pleased that the impact of Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy’s initiative extended far beyond the initial grant period. Due to the overwhelmingly successful outcomes and positive feedback from participants, the fitness sessions continued for an additional 12 weeks, and fishing has become a permanent fixture in their programme.