One of the North East’s biggest social care providers, Community Integrated Care, has assisted 10 people with support needs to take part in a once in a lifetime volunteering opportunity at the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup international women’s football competition.
The Arnold Clark Cup has been taking place at the Riverside Stadium, home of EFL Championship’s Middlesborough Football Club, throughout February.
During yesterday’s second fixture of the international tournament, which saw England Lionesses take on Canada Women, volunteers with learning disabilities, autism and complex care and support needs took part in a whole host of activities, including gifting presents to fans as part of random acts of kindness day, to DJ’ing in the fan zone to thousands of people prior to kick-off.
The inclusive placements have been made possible thanks to Community Integrated Care’s world-first volunteering programme for people with care and support needs, and the charity’s long-standing partnership with the charitable arm of Middlesborough Football Club, MFC Foundation, who supported the event.
The volunteering programme, which has been created in conjunction with the Rugby League World Cup 2021, Rugby Football League, and Super League, has sought to give specialist mentoring and development opportunities designed to fulfil potential, promote independence and make dreams come true for people with care and support needs by matching them with roles in line with their interests and talents.
James Brooks, a Quality Advisor at Community Integrated Care, who took part in the event as a Retail Assistant in the official club store and Matchday Assessor said: “Myself and my friend Dean welcomed, engaged, and assisted hundreds of fans to the stadium – it was exciting to play an important role at the stadium for the club I love at an international fixture. We helped in the club store and got to see the operations behind the scenes.
We’ve also previously performed integral responsibilities as Matchday Evaluators, at last summer’s biggest Rugby League event, the Dacia Magic Weekend, which has helped guide the Rugby Football League to be more inclusive and accessible to people who access care and support.”
Lewis Webster, Sports Inclusion Communications Manager at Community Integrated Care said: “Our inclusive volunteers know how to make an impact – and together last night, we stepped into the world of international football and didn’t disappoint. We believe in the potential of our people and we’re proud that our volunteers, and our incredible colleagues that supported them, had their moment in the spotlight at this fantastic football event!
“This world-class inclusive volunteering programme is challenging perceptions, breaking down barriers and proving that people who access care and support can achieve their dreams. A huge thank you to Middlesborough Football Club, The Football Association and England Lionesses, for giving us the opportunity, showing that football has a place for everyone as we aim for a more inclusive society.”