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Volunteers live their dreams at Grand Final

People who access care and support were at the heart at Rugby League’s biggest events this weekend, volunteering at the Betfred Super League’s Men’s and Women’s Grand Finals. From showcasing their talents on stage to creating gifts for the finalists, forty people enjoyed extraordinary placements with the support of Community Integrated Care.

The participants are members of the world-first Inclusive Volunteering Programme developed by our charity in partnership with the Rugby League World Cup 2021. This gives people who have support needs, such as learning disabilities, autism, and mental health concerns, the opportunity to discover their potential through personal development, specialist mentoring and incredible experiences. Volunteers live their dreams at Grand Final

The volunteers inspirationally shared the talents that they have developed with the support of Community Integrated Care this year, in a variety of aspirational roles. This included our charity’s Photography Club capturing the action on and off the pitch, and participants in its Media Club presenting to hundreds of fans, live on stage at Old Trafford.

Many volunteers enjoyed unforgettable experiences. From setting up the changing rooms for their heroes to assisting with medal and on-field trophy presentations, they made an invaluable and exciting contribution to the showpiece events.

Community Integrated Care’s Inclusive Volunteering Programme ensures that having a disability isn’t a barrier to enjoying vocational opportunities. This was powerfully realised when people who have profound learning disabilities made gifts of soap, which they presented to players in the Women’s Grand Final. By learning how to make soap, the volunteers and their support teams have discovered a life-changing activity that is sensory, stimulating, and accessible.

As the Official Social Care partner of the RFL and Super League, Community Integrated Care plays an important role in championing inclusion through the rugby league. To support this effort, we also developed a team of Matchday Assessors, who helped to audit the events. Their perspectives will provide invaluable insight to support greater accessibility for disabled rugby league fans.

John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care said:

“The Grand Final represented everything that is special about our RLWC2021 Inclusive Volunteering Programme. We saw people achieve stunning things, which they will never forget, on an incredible stage.

Amazing projects are only possible because of amazing people. I would like to thank the volunteers and families for their passion and hard work, as well as the team at Community Integrated Care, who have worked tirelessly to deliver these opportunities. Above all, we’d like to thank the teams at the RFL and Super League for being so committed to making a difference.”

Aaron Senior, a volunteer from Bradford, said:

“Volunteering at Old Trafford as a Matchday Reporter was a dream come true. I will never forget being part of the Grand Final. I’ve achieved things that I never imagined would be possible because of the support of Community Integrated Care and this project.”

Jodie Cunningham, St Helens Captain and Community Engagement Lead for the Rugby League World Cup 2021, said:

“It was an amazing surprise when the volunteers gave us gifts of soap and beautiful artworks to celebrate our success. These gifts capped off what was truly the best day of my life.

I have loved working with Community Integrated Care and their volunteers this year. It never fails to amaze me how brilliant the volunteers are and how much they contribute to our great game.”

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