Technology needed for innovative young offender scheme

FI is looking for technological support for an award winning scheme that is providing a new future for young offenders by providing them with the skills for a new start in life.

Using the lure of renovating old First and Second World War tanks, the project engages the offenders and provides them with the spur needed to get the qualifications that can give them a new future.

Set up by the Weald Foundation, the Rugmer Project, has been developed in conjunction with Kent Probation, the Tank Museum in Dorset, and West Kent College and now takes young offenders from the Kent area and educates them to GSCE level in English and Maths while also providing them with an NVQ in Engineering and has achieved an astounding success rate.

“Nearly 60% of the people in the criminal justice system have the literacy and numeracy of an 11 year old. Basic literacy and numeracy remains one of the biggest challenges of working with offenders,” said David Ridd, the project’s co-ordinator and a former TV producer, adding: “Being able to read and write enhances the chances of young offenders being able to find and sustain long-term employment.”

Since the project’s start over 70 offenders have passed through the scheme, generating nearly 90 level 1 literacy and Numeracy awards and 6 NVQ level 1 engineering qualifications.  Re-offending rates are running at 7%.  This compares to a national average of 61%.  Attendance rates are at 85%.  7 offenders have found work whilst working at the project.

Success that has been recognised by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which last year gave its national Unpaid Work Award to the Rugmer Project.

Now the project’s organisers want to move its work onto the internet, but to do that it needs new computers and help to develop an in internet presence and is seeking support from the technology community.

Which is where you come in – the work of the Rugmer Project is already attracting considerable TV and media interest and the organisers want to work with the technology sector to develop even more innovative ways to promote the work it is doing and offer more educational opportunities for the people it is helping.

If you feel you can contribute either computers or internet website help that can take the project onto the web then please contact Pete warren on


The Weald Foundation,

Established in 2002, The Weald Foundation is home to a unique collection of historic military vehicles, restored to full working condition over the last decade.




The Foundation’s programme focuses on four key areas:


• To acquire and preserve First and Second World War Military Vehicles for the education of the public.


• To research and interpret original documents, record in film and in photographs the restoration of each vehicle, to produce literature on the history of the vehicles and related equipment for display to the general public.


• To promote and encourage the study of methods of restoration.


• To research the unit and therefore campaign history, where possible, of each vehicle and inform the public. This research will encompass interviews with veterans, archive and data study and step by step analysis of the vehicle itself – workshop archaeology.


As part of its charitable remit the Foundation established, in May 2009, an educational scheme known as the Rugmer Project.  This is an innovative Community Payback partnership with Kent Probation, West Kent College and the Tank Museum in Dorset.  The Project provides offenders with GCSE equivalent qualifications in English, Maths and an NVQ in Engineering.  Each day involves literacy and numeracy instruction and vehicle restoration. The project currently runs one day a week.  It is modelled on a similar award winning scheme which has been running at the Tank Museum since 2003.  In 2010 The Rugmer Project won the national Unpaid Work award from the Howard League for Penal Reform.


Since the project’s inception over 50 offenders have passed through the scheme, generating nearly 80 level 1 literacy and Numeracy awards and 4 NVQ level 1 engineering qualifications.  Re-offending rates are running at 7%.  This compares to a national average of 61%.  Attendance rates are at 85%.  7 offenders have found work whilst working at the project.


The intended outcome is to create restoration projects which offenders can begin and complete within the allotted time-span.  For example the Project has traded a restorable German tank engine for a non-working engine with the Dutch National Military Museum at Overloon.  The offenders have been carrying out a complete external restoration and the engine will be returned to Holland for permanent static display.  Restored vehicles are sent out to other museums or take part in public displays and or educational projects.  Offenders also have the opportunity to be with the vehicles when they go out on show and to video and document the restoration projects,   promoting offender engagement in service delivery.


It is the Foundation’s goal to rebuild and restore each vehicle to full working condition in exactly the same way as the factory original, with the exception of weapons that are de-activated for safety reasons.


Not only are the vehicles themselves important examples of military history, their restoration represents an important landmark in historic military vehicle restoration.


This level of restoration requires painstaking research and an extraordinary attention to detail in all areas of the restoration process to achieve the correct end result. This can involve reproducing the largest or smallest parts, often hidden from sight, using the original methods of production, regardless of more modern and efficient methodologies. Our restoration will allow these extremely important historic fighting vehicles to live again in original form thus preserved for future generations.


The Foundation works closely with the Tank Museum and the Imperial War Museum in the UK.  Its founder, Michael Gibb, is a Trustee of the Tank Museum.  The Foundation is currently restoring a Tiger 1 tank engine for the Tank Museum.  It also undertakes restoration work for a number of other collections and individuals.


The next phase of development calls for greater public access to the existing collection with increased emphasis on public education.  As part of this the Foundation have entered into partnership with the Tank Museum in Dorset, who have agreed to initiate a loan agreement to enable the Kent project to swap vehicles thereby enhancing the educational potential of the project.


In addition to its education work the Foundation is involved in a number of high profile public projects over the next few years.  The most immediate plan is to co-ordinate with both the Imperial War Museum and the Tank Museum to have running vehicles ready for the 100th anniversary of the First World War in 2014.  The restored vehicles will take centre stage in 2016 for the anniversary of the first use of tanks during the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme.