Representatives from social care charity, Community Integrated Care, joined Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) teams and delegates in a special reception at Downing Street recently, to showcase the life-changing impact of the charity’s pioneering volunteering programme.
Hosted by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, the reception saw Rugby League teams from across the world come together to celebrate the UK’s staging of the biggest, best, and most inclusive Rugby League World Cup in the sport’s 127-year history.
Partnering with the RLWC 2021 in 2020, Community Integrated Care created the world-first Inclusive Volunteering Programme, which has since given more than 350 people who have support needs, such as learning disabilities, autism and mental health concerns, the platform to grow in independence, discover new passions and make friends through volunteering.
Most recently, this has included volunteers having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet HRH the Princess of Wales at the England Men’s and Women’s double header fixture at the DW Stadium.
With the volunteers participating in unique projects that are designed around their personal dreams and aspirations, and receiving specialist mentoring and support via the charity’s Inclusive Volunteering team, the Inclusive Volunteering Programme represents a unique model of changing lives through sport.
Life-changing experiences for everyone taking part
John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care, said: “From volunteers advising the World Cup organisers on how they can make their events more accessible, to a 10-year-old aspiring rapper who has autism creating a song with a hit-making producer, our Inclusive Volunteering Programme continues to break down barriers and create amazing, life-changing experiences for everyone taking part.
“We were delighted for the opportunity to share our achievements at Downing Street and proud to join members of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 to champion inclusion and celebrate the tournament. I’d like to say a big thank you to all our wonderful Inclusive Volunteers and colleagues for getting involved and contributing to the programme, and also to Rugby League World Cup 2021 and Sport England, who have made these experiences possible.”
Oliver Thomason, Sports Inclusion Coordinator, added: “Visiting number 10 was a fantastic experience. As someone with a learning disability, I was really proud to represent our charity at Downing Street and share how important disability inclusion is. I also met so many amazing people and shared the work of all our volunteers across the Rugby League World Cup 2021 – they’re all superstars.”