A FOOTBALL club which helps young offenders to turn their lives around was invited to the launch of a new national initiative at Wembley Stadium.

Guiseley was the only non-league football club asked to attend the launch of the Twinning Project which links football clubs with their local prisons. The scheme aims to reduce re-offending by giving training sessions along with coaching and refereeing courses.

The Wembley event was launched by David Dein, former FA and Arsenal vice-chairman, and was addressed by Ian Wright, the former Arsenal and England striker, ex Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, and Rory Stewart, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice.

The initiative is encouraging clubs from the Premier League and EFL to give coaching and refereeing training to help inmates find work after prison.

Guiseley was invited to attend the event because of the separate work it has already been carrying out at Wetherby Young Offenders Institute. The club is also planning to work at Armley Prison in the near future.

The Ministry of Justice has also used the Guiseley AFC Community Foundation film about the club’s work with young offenders

Guiseley’s community foundation development manager Steve Taylor, who attended the Wembley summit, and his team also work with pupils from a Pupil Referral Unit and are to shortly work with two children’s secure units.

He said: “This is a fantastic initiative which will hopefully allow us to build on the work that the Foundation are currently doing and encourage other, particularly non-league and community-based clubs to get involved.

“Should any other clubs want to get involved we would be more than happy to hear from them.”

The Guiseley scheme was launched in February and Mr Taylor said the programme was proving very successful. The club is working with a group of about 16 young offenders and it is hoped the nationally recognised qualifications will allow them to rebuild their lives when they are released back into the community

After the Wembley launch Guiseley Foundation chairman, Phil Rogerson, said: “This is great initiative that will hopefully give impetus to and build on the work already being done by football clubs within the prison estate.

“Funding these activities is obviously a challenge, particularly for smaller clubs and their Community Foundations but I am sure that with the help of the National League Trust, the Premier League and the PFA we can rise to this and continue to expand the work we are doing in this area.”