Our new Ambassador, Jodie Cunningham
We are delighted to announce the appointment of England Rugby League Women’s star Jodie Cunningham as an ambassador!
Jodie, who is currently in Training Camp ahead of the England Women’s first fixture at the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021), has worked closely with Community Integrated Care on projects over the past 18 months, including the groundbreaking primary schools educational programme ‘We’re On The Same Team’, a community accessible gardening project at Newton Community Hospital and an inclusive World Cup Advisory Panel, which will help to shape how this year’s tournament will be delivered from the perspectives of people with learning disabilities.
The St Helens captain will be a key figure in England’s attempts to win the RLWC2021 Tournament on home soil, and Jodie has seen firsthand how the unique social care partnership with Community Integrated Care can have a major impact on people’s lives.
Jodie explained: “Working with Community Integrated Care is really special for me. I was there right at the start of the partnership with the Rugby League World Cup, and to see projects being delivered over the past 18 months, and meet with the inclusive volunteers and develop friendships was fantastic. It’s great when you talk about it in theory, but when you get to meet the individuals who are part of it, you see how important this is, and special the work the charity is doing across our communities.”
“I’ve developed a really good friendship with Community Integrated Care Sports Inclusion Coordinator, Oliver Thomason, who like me, is an official Rugby League World Cup ambassador. Oliver has really shone a light on what you can achieve when given the opportunity, and that’s been really special for me.”
“Then there is Matt Price, one of the members of the Community Integrated Care media club. I met Matt early on when he was just starting out in photography. He was quite shy and needed a little bit of encouragement to get up and give it a go. I’ve recently done a couple of presentations with Matt, and the way he now stands up and speaks on stage is better than many professionals.”
“That personal development that he’s gone through, on top of the photography skills that he’s learned, shows him shining as a human being and that’s all that we do this work for. Seeing that Matt has now successfully gained employment with Community Integrated Care, as Sports Inclusion Coordinator, just shows the value in the creation of opportunities for people with learning disabilities, and how together, we can tackle societal misconceptions and inequalities.”
“This past summer’s Super League Magic Weekend was another opportunity for our inclusive volunteers to show how brilliant they are. They had the opportunity to do things most people wouldn’t have the chance to in their lives, all with huge smiles on their faces in front of thousands of rugby league fans. The feedback I receive from anyone who sees the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League is massive, and alongside that we have all the brilliant work being done beyond playing on the pitch, with the inclusive volunteers.”
Speaking about the World Cup themed accessible gardening project, at Newton Community Hospital, Jodie says: “There’s lots of things that won’t be tangible about the legacy we leave, but the accessible community garden like this that people can come and see are engaging and touching people’s lives and making them better, using rugby league as a vehicle. This is one of my favourites out of all the projects that we’ve done. Yes, it’s rugby league themed here because we’ve got the trophies and we’ve got the balls, but this World Cup is all about being inclusive and not just the players on the pitch or the people that work for the World Cup. It means that everybody in society has a way to connect with this World Cup one way or the other. You don’t have to want to pick up a rugby league ball to be part of this tournament.
John Hughes, Director of Communities and Partnerships at Community Integrated Care said: “We are thrilled to have Jodie as one of Community Integrated Care’s ambassadors. She is one of the stars of the Women’s Super League at St Helens and has a huge few months ahead of her in the World Cup, but the work she’s done off the field is just as important and she has been a key part of a number of Community Integrated Care’s projects. We look forward to extending that in the future.”