In what is believed to be a unique event, HMP Kilmarnock, managed and operated by Serco for the Scottish Prison Service, will today hold the first ever football tournament between three teams drawn from the Scottish Parliament, the prison staff and prisoners.
The Parliamentary team is led by local MSP Brian Whittle and the tournament follows a visit he made to the prison earlier this year. Brian will be joined by Maurice Golden MSP and the Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP. The MSPs will be joined by staff members from some MSP’s offices and staff from Catalyst, a local charity that support prisoners before and after release, encouraging them to develop talents in subjects like art and music, with the aim of reducing reoffending.
The prisoner team is made up of a squad which has been undergoing a ten week accredited football course. This course is a free-standing unit that may be used as part of Scottish Group Award or be associated with programmes of study in schools, colleges of further education or other centres.
The prison staff team will include staff drawn from all aspects of the establishment.
Brian Whittle MSP commented: “When I visited earlier this year, I was really impressed at the work that is going on at Kilmarnock to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them for release back into society. So I was delighted to bring colleagues from Holyrood to join me to see it for themselves and play footie in this tournament.”
Michael Guy, Serco’s Contract Director at HMP Kilmarnock, added: “We’re really looking forward to the MSP team’s arrival and I know all the teams are eager to test their skills against each other! But there is a serious side to this as well. The accredited course that the prisoners are doing is part of our programme to give prisoners the skills that will help prepare them for going back into society and finding work. We know that promoting prisoner health and wellbeing can help reduce the likelihood of reoffending.”