Leeds Rhinos Foundation was delighted to welcome a group from Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network on Thursday night to experience a live Leeds Rhinos home game in the Foundation Community Hub.
A mix of staff, volunteers, asylum seekers and refugees who work with the charity were given the opportunity to enjoy the Rhinos’ Betfred Super League clash with Toronto Wolfpack from the comfort of the Foundation Community Hub, which was incorporated into the second floor of the new Tetley’s South Stand following the recent £45m redevelopment of Emerald Headingley Stadium.
The facility provided a safe and welcoming environment for the group to enjoy the evening’s entertainment from, as the Rhinos came away with a 66-12 victory. Free refreshments and seats on the halfway line were also provided, giving the group a perfect vantage point to watch the action unfold.
David Skivington, Volunteers Manager at LASSN, said: “This is the third time we’ve been invited to bring a group to a Rhinos game, and they’ve all loved it every single time. We’ve had such a warm welcome and because some of the people we support can be isolated, it means being able to enjoy such a great spectacle and engage with many different people is really important for them.
“For these people to feel valued by being given tickets to come experience a match, and to be in the crowd and feel like you’re part of something within Leeds by joining in with the cheering and singing is massive. It’s a gift that builds confidence and a sense of belonging which can be life changing.”
For several members of the group, Thursday was the first time they have ever attended a live sporting event, with Leeds Rhinos Foundation recognising the importance of using sport as a vehicle to help asylum seekers and refugees integrate into the local community and tackle the issue of social isolation.
This is further evidenced by the charity’s ESOL project, which helps asylum seekers and refugees to improve their English Language skills and find employment through classroom-based work.
One of the LASSN volunteers attended with 14-year-old Hamza, who has recently started playing rugby for his school and described it as an ‘amazing experience.’ Having befriended Hamza and his family, the volunteer commented: “Seeing his face when we walked into the stadium was fantastic and when we got back home he was so excited to tell his mum all about it, which was lovely to hear.
“Thank you for all your hard work looking after everyone throughout the evening. It’s an impressive thing to do for the community.”
Each matchday, Leeds Rhinos Foundation welcomes a different community group into the Community Hub- ranging from the participants of their Health and Wellbeing projects to other Leeds-based charities who support some of the city’s most vulnerable people, including St Gemma’ Hospice, Leeds Mencap and St John’s School for the Deaf.
Bob Bowman, Leeds Rhinos Foundation Chief Operating Officer, said: “It is great to work with LASSN and to give those people who are trying to integrate into the community and forge their futures in Leeds the chance to come and experience a Rhinos home game.
“The whole idea of the Foundation Community Hub is to give more people and groups who normally wouldn’t think about, or be able to come here through disadvantage, the chance to enjoy the matchday experience with us, as making a positive, lasting impact on the lives of people in our community is what we’re all about here.”
For more information about the work of Leeds Rhinos Foundation or how to bring your community group into the Foundation Community Hub, please contact email@example.com.