Jenny sees volunteering experiences transform her life
Members of our Inclusive Volunteering Media Club have been working collaboratively on a project about the Learning Disability Super League (LDSL). It’s called Our Stories. The idea behind the campaign is to tell the unique stories of the players who play in the LDSL, aiming to spread awareness of the benefits to being a part of these incredible teams, and why more people with learning disabilities should try and get involved.
Our colleague Gareth Walker interviewed each participant to find out their stories. Meet Jenny below:
Jenny Robinson is a shining example of the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League’s impact extending well beyond the pitch.
Jenny has accessed a wide range of Inclusive Volunteering opportunities with support from Community Integrated Care and Leeds Rhinos Foundation. By joining our Media Club, Jenny has developed both marketing and communication skills, helping her to promote the Leeds Rhinos LDSL team by interviewing players and appearing on various media outlets. A talented artist, Jenny’s creative work featured in Super League matchday programmes and Sky Sports’ TV broadcast of Magic Weekend.
She has fully embraced the non-playing opportunities provided by the competition, which was created to provide an adapted, non-competition version of rugby league.
Jenny’s volunteering through Community Integrated Care began during lockdown and gave her a real sense of belonging during a time of difficult isolation for many. As the world re-opened, Jenny’s volunteering expanded, improving her confidence, social ability and working life skills, and significantly reducing her anxieties around leaving the house and accessing live events.
Among Jenny’s many projects, she has contributed to the charity’s official England Rugby League World Cup warm up shirt design and displayed her own art exhibition at a Leeds Rhinos fixture.
In addition to that she hosted the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League World Cup draw at Headingley Stadium, as part of the Inclusive Volunteering programme run in partnership with Sport England and spoke about her experiences on the hugely popular Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 during the tournament.
Jenny explained: “It has changed my life. Working with Community Integrated Care has given me so many things to look forward to and be excited about. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
“Before I started with the Learning Disability Super League, I wasn’t meeting people and socialising as much as I should. I stayed at home a lot.
“I was nervous and a little bit worried at the start because I didn’t know much about rugby. I didn’t want to get anything wrong and just wanted to do the best I could. After the first few minutes, I was relieved as everybody was so welcoming. It made me feel comfortable and meant I could be myself around them.
Asked to pick out her favourite memory so far in the sport, Jenny added: “Probably attending the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Wheelchair Final in Manchester, as an Inclusive Volunteer with Community Integrated Care. To see England get the win was simply amazing.
“Seeing everyone’s reaction was amazing – I was screaming my head off and I could see my dad cheering. To be the flag-bearer on that day was an incredible experience!”
Kurtis Marsh, Sports Inclusion Team Leader at Community Integrated Care, has witnessed Jenny’s inspiring journey as a volunteer.
He explained: “Jenny has so much ability to share with the world, and it’s only right that we support Jenny to nurture her talents. Whether it’s her stunning art posters advertising the LDSL and portraits of professional stars across rugby league, her bubbly and friendly personality or her thorough interviewing techniques, Jenny has developed so much since first joining up with our Media Club and proven that by taking a chance, you can achieve amazing feats. Well done Jenny, you’ve got a lot to be proud of!”
Becoming involved with the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League has also allowed Jenny to support her partner Declan Jenkinson, who plays for the Leeds Rhinos LDSL team.
Jenny added: “I wanted to support Declan at games, as I know how much it meant to him. It’s really helped with my confidence – when you’re doing interviews with people, you need to be quite brave sometimes, which I’ve developed through the Media Club.”
Jenny has now secured two long term volunteering roles with the Leeds Rhinos LDSL team, attends weekly arts classes and is applying for further opportunities elsewhere.