Head of Delivery, Steve Johns provides an update on Community Group’s work across the country over the past few months, as well as projects at Bournville RFC where he is the Head of Community

Since my last blog a lot has happened in Community Rugby (and indeed the world). We have been working hard in schools and ensuring safe and effective delivery on all of our programmes within Community Group and our partner clubs. Simon Price has taken on the role of Managing Director and has been working closely with Matt Price (Chairman) and myself (Head of Delivery) to support clubs effectively across a number of key areas.

Having safe and high-quality programmes in place to keep young and older people active is absolutely critical at all times, especially in these times. The commitment of everyone at Community Group and their teams of coaches at our partner clubs is very inspiring – it truly is a team effort. I have heard so many amazing stories about the effect our programmes are having on a human level. The opportunity to have impact and make a difference can occur regularly in community sport. I felt compelled to share some of our Community Group stories with you in this post.

A recent experience of mine was at a school coaching appointment for Bournville RFC. At the start of term there was a child who had recently moved from France and spoke very little English. I wanted to make them feel as included as possible, as I contemplated what it would be like to be in their shoes. I have tried to add to my (GCSE French level) vocabulary to learn some phrases that they would understand throughout the sessions. The child is thriving in PE, and last week they even tried to adapt the rules in one of the games the group was doing!

Another recent experience at Bournville is at our Walking Rugby Sessions for over 50s. I also love seeing the enjoyment from the group when they play – they never fail to put a smile on my face. It is also lovely to have seen them enjoying a refreshing (and well earned) drink after the sessions. This shows the social benefit to activities as well as the numerous and more obvious physical benefits.

I have been hearing examples of this across our other partner clubs too. I recently caught up with Dom Palacio, Head of Community at Richmond Rugby. He said: “Last year, I introduced a secondary school child to the Minis & Juniors section. Due to the child’s circumstances at home, we arranged for a membership bursary for him and supplied him with some free kit. Over the summer holidays, the child (and their siblings) benefitted from our free school meal provision. At the end of the summer holidays, their mum contacted me to thank us for everything we are doing for them (both with the free meals and also with the free rugby membership) – in her words – ‘Richmond has transformed my child from a boy lacking in self-confidence to being more animated and confident in his everyday life’.”

Similarly, Phill Mills, Head of Community at Fylde Rugby Community Foundation, told me some of the recent impacts his Department was having. Phill explained: “There was an older child that had booked on to our October Half Term camp. He was a couple years older than the closest child in their group. He wanted to be a support coach on the camp – this made him feel really involved and he really enjoyed it (and also informally developed his coaching skills). We then discussed the possibility of joining Fylde RFC to play with an age group as he mentioned he played at school and was really interested. He is now going to join the club and start to play rugby off the back of his experience at our camp, which is great”.

I also caught up with Chad Thorne at Stourbridge Rugby. He said: “There was a child who joined the rugby club’s Minis & Juniors section because they had loved our Community Department’s sessions at their school. The child was given some health and fitness support through the restrictions and they have improved confidence and self-esteem when they have been able to play. They have also made new friends too, which is fantastic to see.”

Matt Goode has also seen impact from Chinnor RFC Thame Community Department’s work in schools. He told me: “We worked with a Year 11 student on the ‘My Personal Best’ mentoring programme this year. At the start of the year, this young person was having difficulty engaging with lessons and doing work, and was often in situations around school which would be negative. During the last couple of months of our programme they have changed their focus and they are now putting their energy into getting positive GCSE results. We have worked with teachers on the best strategies for this student and have been able to guide them to achieve better outcomes, not only in school but also socially.”

If you are inspired by any of these stories and you want to personally support the projects we do, click HERE to donate to our Community Group Crowdfunding page.

Bournville Community Department Update

We recently ran a series of October Camps at the club which attracted a total of 57 different children from age 5-16. We have also been working hard on funding applications for our charitable projects to enable us to do more funded schemes.

We have set a new date for our Community Touch Rugby Day so that members can look forward to the event on December 19. We are also running a Christmas Camp which is in the planning process – details of which will be available as soon as possible.

We have been setting up various provision opportunities with RFU All Schools Funding and also Satellite Club Funding for school groups.

Our Wheelchair Rugby groups will be restarting in the new year and we have put the first few steps in place to enable this to happen. We have also agreed provision with schools to upskill teaching staff in teaching Rugby Union.

We are also launching a support project this winter to support those living alone – this is called ‘Tackling Isolation’. See details below to find out more.

If you, or anyone you know, wants to support the great work going on within Bournville RFC, please do get in touch by clicking HERE.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact community@bournvillerfc.co.uk.

I wish you and your family a safe and happy winter.

If you would like to know more about how Community Group can support your club, please get in touch by clicking HERE.

Community Group is committed to continuing to make a difference up and down the country. We have no intention of easing up, but in order to continue supporting those most in need, we are seeking your help by launching our Crowdfunding campaign. Any amount however big or small will make a huge difference, with your donations directly supporting our Partner Clubs and their communities.