RFL and Community Integrated Care extend social care partnership

The RFL and Community Integrated Care today announce a long-term extension to the sport’s pioneering Social Care Partnership – as Community Integrated Care celebrates its fifth anniversary of working in Rugby League.

Community Integrated Care is one of Britain’s biggest and most successful social care charities, supporting more than 3,000 people who have learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns, dementia and complex care needs to lead the best life possible.

Since 2016, the charity has pioneered many innovative programmes with the sport of Rugby League at a local and national level that promote the health, happiness and inclusion of people who access support, and help impact paid and family carers.

This work was taken to new levels in 2018, when the Rugby Football League and Super League allied with the charity to became the first governing body and top flight league with a dedicated Social Care Partner. With a shared vision of using the power of Rugby League to change lives, this collaboration has formed many innovative programmes, and helped bring significant investment, resources and skills to support the sport’s disability inclusion efforts.

Changing the lives of tens of thousands of people, creating unprecedented opportunities across communities, and helping to promote a more inclusive society, this is a truly groundbreaking partnership.

This success has most prominently included the creation of the world-first Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League which includes Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s own Learning Disability team, and the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Inclusive Volunteering programmes.

The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League has given more than 300 people who have learning disabilities or autism the chance to play for the clubs that they love, enjoying a specially accessible and adapted form of Rugby League. This programme was named as the ‘Best Model of Integrated Care’ by Skills for Care, the national body for training and innovation in social care.

The Inclusive Volunteering Programme has supported more than 350 people to access live-changing mentoring, support and opportunities, through projects inspired by Rugby League and the RLWC2021 and opportunities to volunteer at major games. The project has already provided more than 4,500 hours of support to participants, enabling people to fulfil their greatest dreams and grow in independence. The programme was named as the “Best Community Scheme” at the 2021 Sports Business Awards and won the Sporting Chance honour at the National Learning Disability and Autism Awards.

Other innovations created by the partnership have included the creation of www.What-To-Do.co.uk, a website that offers free live accessible activities every day led by Leeds Rhinos Foundation staff for people who access care and support, and a major campaign to help develop the activity skills of care workers during lockdown.

At a local level, Community Integrated Care works directly with many of Rugby League’s charitable foundations and clubs. With programmes including accessible sports classes for people with profound learning disabilities, education and vocational programmes, social clubs, campaigns to promote inclusion, dementia cafes, and carer wellbeing programmes, this represents a uniquely diverse commitment to social impact through sport.

Future plans include a major education project to promote inclusive attitudes in young people, new community projects to support people living with dementia, and the development of new sports and social opportunities for people who have learning disabilities and autism.

Proud Partners 

John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care, says: “Our relationship with the RFL has changed countless lives and transformed the opportunities that exist for many disabled people in our communities. This long-term extension of our partnership demonstrates the shared commitment that both our charity and the sport has in extending this impact even further in the years ahead.

“The RFL, and our club, foundation and Super League partners, have been incredible partners who deserve enormous credit for their vision and belief. Together, we have delivered an impact that is entirely unique in world sport. We are very excited by the difference that we will make together in the years ahead.”

Ralph Rimmer CEO of the Rugby Football League, said: “We have been proud to develop such a close partnership with Community Integrated Care in recent years leading to the development of the Learning Disability Super League, so we are absolutely delighted to have extended that partnership on a long-term basis.

“There could be no better example of the positive impact of sport in general, and Rugby League in particular – and this partnership extension means an impact on hundreds more lives, in parts of the country where times are especially tough.

“The sport of Rugby League will be delighted to welcome Community Integrated Care and LDSL players to our Mid-Season Internationals this month, to Super League’s Magic Weekend in Newcastle in July, and of course to the Rugby League World Cup this autumn.”

Clare Balding CBE, the President of the RFL, added: “This partnership is Rugby League at its best. That is why I was so delighted when Mark Adams of Community Integrated Care was presented with an RFL’s President’s Award in late 2020 to reflect the importance of the work which had been done in the development of the Learning Disability Super League, and especially through the Covid-19 pandemic – and I am equally pleased that the partnership is to continue.”

For more information about our partners Community Integrated Care, please visit https://www.communityintegratedcare.co.uk/