Harriet Holden

  • Doctoral Researcher

I previously studied a BSc in Sociology at the Universite de Limoges in France, before studying an MSc in Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology at Edinburgh Napier University. I completed a Masters in Social Science Research (Social Policy) at Loughborough, and my PhD is funded by the ESRC.


Examining the role of sport and physical activity in supporting the early desistance transitions of formerly incarcerated people

PGR Supervisors: Dr Christopher Kay and Dr Carolynne Mason

The study will investigate the ways in which sport and physical activity programmes can be used to support the initial desistance efforts of former prisoners post-release, and is guided by the following objectives:

  1. To understand the ways in which early desistance efforts are maintained by ex-prisoners, post-release
  2. To understand how useful prison-based sport and physical activity programmes are in supporting the initial desistance efforts of ex-prisoners in the community

The study will examine the Twinning Project, which is a national initiative that “twins” Premier League and Football League clubs with local prisons to offer coaching and education provisions to incarcerated offenders with the longer-term aspiration to enhance their employability post-release.

The study will adopt a qualitative methodology, consisting of participant observation and narrative interviews with participants in Twinning Project programmes whilst in prison and after release. Interviews will also be conducted with coaches delivering the course and practitioners from the clubs working in the community.

The proposed work would be the first of its kind to examine the interdisciplinary fields of sport and physical activity and initial desistance transitions. It will allow for an improved understanding of the ways in which desistance efforts are managed post-release, but also how sport and physical activity can be used to support rehabilitative efforts in the community. While adding to the available knowledge base, it is expected that the project will identify best practice which will benefit the partner organisation and those undertaking sport and physical activity in custodial settings.