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Social Inclusion award 2008/09

Winner: Grasshoppers RFC (Middlesex RFU)

Grasshoppers RFC continues to build on its community involvement with various school based projects.

Y7 Hounslow Borough League:
For the first time, the club hosted a Y7 Hounslow Borough League for six schools, each playing each other regularly, culminating with the HSBC Rugby Festivals. The club, in partnership with our their part funded Community Rugby Coach (CRC) and local RFU CRC provided coaching sessions for every school and by encouraging teacher involvement, it is hoped that schools will maintain the competition next season when Y7s move into Y8.  The club will again provide coaching for Y7s in 2009/10, help organise a league structure and by repeating the initiative it is hoped that competitive leagues will be established for Y7-Y10s in Hounslow.

Secondary Schools:
The club has established active links with ten of Hounslow’s eleven secondary schools; five years ago only four were playing rugby. The club feel that the success of Mini rugby in the Borough has undoubtedly encouraged secondary schools to take up the sport. The club also coaches girls’ teams in the Borough and actively provides a club/school link through its boys and girls junior sections. The club hosted matches for Heathland School in October and are now building on this by running combined training sessions at various age groups with the club’s junior sides.  I&S Sports College hope to introduce a Sports Services course to include club/ground maintenance and the club will be sitting down with them to offer their facilities as a model and involve their club manager and groundsman to help provide input on running a club and grounds maintenance.

Special Needs Schools:
The club is coaching in two Special Needs schools in Hounslow and working with the RFU’s Community Coaches to host a festival that includes schools from neighbouring Boroughs. Wooden Spoon raises substantial funds to benefit pupils at Special Needs schools and establishing an annual event provides a way for rugby to maintain an ongoing link. The club hope to partner Secondary schools with Special Needs schools with rugby as the theme and are in discussions with the Borough sports development teams to make a viable proposition to link volunteering with Special Needs schools coaching.  

Primary schools:
Tag has become so successful in local primary schools since the club organised a primary school Tag rugby festival during the Sweet Chariot Tour in 2004, that it is now one of the biggest events in the Borough.  2009 promises to be even bigger with cluster matches for all Hounslow schools, the club hosting a final in April, hosting the finals of an inter-Borough competition in May and a festival open to all 44 of the Borough’s primary schools in June. 

Schools Sports Partnerships:
The club has a close link with the two Schools Sports Partnership (SSP) teams in Hounslow and has now provided 483 hours of coaching to 2671 youngsters (1406 were girls, 1198 from Black & Ethnic Minority groups).  They provide coaches for the Tag/girls teams representing the Borough in the Mini/London Youth Games and have a close link with the Competitions Manager for West London, offering their facilities free of charge for a wide range of sporting activities.  Prior to the launch event in 2004, very few of the primary schools engaged with Tag rugby; now nearly 100% of them do.

Runner Up: Chelmsford YOI/Essex RFU (Essex RFU)

The Nomination of Chelmsford Young Offenders Institute and Essex County RFU pays tribute to the work of Prison Officer Nigel Seaman supported by Essex County RFU and RDO Keith Green.  Nigel, a keen rugby player and coach at Thurston RFC overcame the doubts and fears of colleagues and other prisoners to deliver the RFU Community Leaders Award Course - the first of its kind in any prison in 2008. Following the success of the first course he and Keith have now delivered four courses at the prison, the last one drawing the attention of HRH Princess Anne during a visit to the prison in February 2009.

The course aims were to address offender behaviour through sport and improve prisoners’ life skills through communication, teamwork, motivation and enthusiasm. The course enabled prisoners of different ethnic origins and nationalities to come together to play Rugby Union. In addition, the course sought to improve community links with external agencies through rugby.

The courses have been led by RFU Rugby Development Officer, Keith Green, assisted by other RFU coaches and tutors and have been the subject of much positive comment from other prison staff and prisoners - it was clear from the outset that the participants were enthusiastic and gaining much from it.

They immediately took to the positive ethos and core values that rugby offers and in addition to learning to play the game, albeit the Tag version, they were also taught many other skills. These included First Aid, child protection legislation and coaching techniques.

Of the original 20 students on the first course 19 passed with certificates in First Aid, Child Protection and the Community Rugby Award, and are now eligible for progression to a Level 1 Rugby Coaching qualification. All twenty of the students on the second course also passed, as have a similar number on the two successive courses.

The Prison Governor Mr Rob Davis has commented that "The course has equipped the students with extremely valuable life skills, and all finished with accredited qualifications, which they can use on release to develop futures in community sports, and we are extremely grateful for the support and enthusiasm of the Essex County RFU, the RFU and especially the Essex RDO Keith Green, who found delivering the courses within the establishment, quite challenging."

Of the students who attended the first course, one has gone back into his community in Stoke Newington where he has become involved in community work and is using Tag Rugby in his work with young people.  From the last course, there is one local Essex student who will become involved in coaching and will be able to assist by officiating at matches. There is also the potential for other students to become involved in rugby following their release and some will be involved in Essex as part of their pre-release programme.

The course has been featured in rugby and Prison Service publications and its success has led to expressions of interest from other establishments and a commitment from the Rugby Football Union to run further courses at other establishments in England.

Runner Up: Luton RFC (East Midlands RFU)

Luton in Bedfordshire is a multi-cultural community with a population of 13,700 young people aged 15-19. It has a higher than average number of young people in public care, a below average level of educational attainment at all key stages, an above average level of teenage pregnancy and a well above average level of youth unemployment. 9% of Luton’s 16-18 year olds are not in education, employment or training.
 
Tackling anti-social behaviour, creating safe, healthy, secure communities and enabling young people to succeed and achieve their full potential are key objectives of Luton's Children & Young People's Plan.

‘Field of Dreams’ is a structured, integrated and innovative intervention, targeted at some of the most vulnerable and "hard to reach" young people of Luton. Local evidence shows that they will have disengaged with learning, be involved with anti-social behaviour and be at risk of entering - or already be within - the youth justice system.
 
Without change, the future lives of these young people would potentially involve underachievement and unfulfilled potential, leading to long-term unemployment and possibly more serious criminal activity. In particular it focuses on young people of African Caribbean and Asian heritage as, in addition to the above, there is a need for a change in the relationship between them.

The vision of ‘Field of Dreams’ is for Youth at Risk to work in partnership with Luton Borough Council, Professional Rugby Union Club Saracens and Luton Rugby Club to deliver a programme that combines powerful personal development and life skills coaching with tough, no nonsense fitness and skills training in rugby football. Luton RFC has been instrumental in providing coaching components, ensuring suitable premises are available and bringing on significant commercial backing in the form of Luton Airport, Barclays Bank and the RAC.
 
The aim of the programme is to enable and empower these young people to break from their present behaviour, recognise their potential, commit to change and develop their skills to build a future more beneficial to themselves and their communities. The programme will also address their pre-conceptions and limiting beliefs about each other.
 
The consortium members believe that rugby is a game through which you learn to understand and appreciate that whilst people may be different to you they are equally valuable and to be respected. The premise of the project is if these young people can rise to its challenges then their self-esteem and self-confidence will increase too and they will be better prepared to play the game of life.

Luton RFC have worked hard to establish essential funding for the project and provide the candidates with a playing outlet should they wish.

 

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