The relationship between Sport England and Community Integrated Care, one of the biggest social care providers in the UK, has been named the Best National Corporate Partnership in the charity sector.
The honour, which was presented at the 2023 Charity Times Awards, recognises their joint efforts to improve the lives of thousands of people who access care and support. Judges commended the joint work of the two organisations in championing social inclusion through major events, creating ambitious new physical activity programmes, and utilising sport to influence social change.
At the heart of this success has been Community Integrated Care’s creation of their unique Inclusive Volunteering Model, which has been delivered with the Rugby League World Cup 2021, UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, World Gymnastics Championships 2022 and 2023 World Para Swimming Championships.
The Inclusive Volunteering Programme sees the charity support people who draw on social care to grow in skills, confidence, and social connection through participating in innovative personal development programmes inspired by the events and volunteering at them.
Inclusive Volunteering enables people of all abilities and interests to contribute to the fan and athlete experience of an event, whilst also enjoying life-changing opportunities and living their dreams. From supporting people who have profound learning disabilities to create gifts of soap and artworks for visiting athletes, to providing education that has enabled people to find creative talents to take on media, photography and performance roles at events, the programme has changed lives.
The partnership with Sport England has also seen Community Integrated Care create inclusive and imaginative new ways to enable physical activity. This includes developing the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League – which gives almost 400 people the chance to play for rugby league’s biggest clubs with the Rugby Football League, partnering with Table Tennis England to introduce their sport as an accessible activity in social care settings, and collaborating with the WWF, National Trust, and RSPB to create nature walking groups inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Wild Isles.
The programmes developed through Sport England’s backing of Community Integrated Care have formed vibrant communities, where people are supported to make friends and live happier, connected and more active lives. This can be seen in the creation of www.What-To-Do.co.uk, an award-winning online hub that gives people free activity experiences with leading athletes and sporting organisations. They have also addressed important societal issues – such as hate crime, personal safety, and accessibility.
Praising the partnership, the judges said: “This innovative partnership has changed opportunities for people living with disabilities, reaching a large audience through major sporting events and demonstrating high levels of inclusivity.”
Esther Jones, Senior Manager, Disability Team Sport England said: “We are incredibly proud to have supported Community Integrated Care with their innovative approach to inclusive volunteering.
The programme uses a truly person-centred approach to understand what people are interested in, and then works with them to develop and use their skills linked to volunteering.
Paving the way, the work that Community Integrated Care has done with the partners involved has led to the creation of a successful volunteering model that can be used at all levels of sport and physical activity to ensure that spectating, volunteering and participating truly is accessible and inclusive for everyone.
We are so pleased to see this work continuing and new partnerships developing as a result of our work together. There is more positive work to come, too. Through links with UK Sport, Community Integrated Care are now partnering with other sports and organisations to develop a wide range of inclusive programmes linked to future sporting events, which is fantastic.
John Hughes, Community Integrated Care Director of Partnerships and Communities, said:
“Sport England have been an incredible partner, on many levels. This collaboration has enabled Community Integrated Care to break through many of the constraints that limit the care sector to enable people to lead their best life possible. The innovative programmes that we have created with their support have empowered countless people to find and fulfil their potential – developing skills, becoming active and living their dreams.
“The strength of this relationship can be seen in the brilliant support that they gave us throughout the pandemic, and the encouragement that they give us to be bold and ambitious. We would like to thank everyone at Sport England who a played part in our work, and all of our sporting partners, for their invaluable contribution to changing so many lives.”