Rugby League legend Paul Sculthorpe, Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) and Rhino Rugby League teamed up to bring a special surprise to people supported by the charity Community Integrated Care in St Helens, marking National Learning Disability Week.
The Saints and Great Britain legend visited Mill Point, a newly launched service that is home to 12 people who have learning disabilities. The group, who moved into their new home in February, have experienced a more challenging journey to independent living than expected – with their first months coinciding with lockdown and the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. Bringing exclusive RLWC2021 gifts and enjoying socially-distanced socialising with the tenants and staff, who are all avid Saints fans, the two-time Man of Steel winner certainly lifted the sprits and gave the group a much needed boost.
The visit was created as part of Community Integrated Care’s unique partnership with RLWC2021’s InsprirationALL legacy programme. The charity, which is one of the biggest and most successful care providers in the UK, is partnering with the tournament to support its commitment to making the event a beacon for inclusion.
This commitment will see Community Integrated Care and RLWC2021 develop a series of unique opportunities that will enable people who have support needs, and the people who assist them, to connect them with the tournament. The tenants at Mill Point will be amongst the first beneficiaries of these projects, signing up to RLWC2021 inspired accessible social and employability clubs and creating a World Cup inspired garden in the coming weeks.
The visit by Scully was described by one tenant at Mill Point as “the best day of my life.” With the legendary loose forward giving the team a range of rugby league activity equipment, it is hoped that they can enjoy many more special days together through lockdown and beyond.
Paul Sculthorpe said: “It was brilliant to see everyone’s face light up when I arrived. You could see how meant to them, being such massive fans. For me, it was important to show them some support at a tough time and to celebrate National Learning Disability Week.
“This visit shows how important the RLWC2021 partnership with Community Integrated Care is. I am sure that it will create many more great experiences for the people supported at Mill Point and hundreds of others across the country.”
Rebecca Barton, Service Leader at Mill Point, said: “Rugby League is the biggest passion for most of the people we support and our colleagues. They love Saints, so to have their hero knock at the door and make a surprise visit was beyond belief. They were delighted to get photos and autographs with Paul and were thrilled with their gifts from RLWC2021.
“The people we support at Mill Point had been so excited to move here and enjoy living independently, but clearly the impact of Coronavirus has made what should have been one of the happiest times of their life a lot more difficult. To have an experience like this has given everyone a real boost. I don’t think they’ll ever forget it!
“We’re so proud of the work that Community Integrated Care and RLWC2021 are doing together. The tournament is giving the people we support the opportunity to volunteer, get fit, make friends and even create a special World Cup inspired garden together. The impact of projects like these is huge.”
Tracy Power, Legacy Director for Rugby League World Cup 2021, added: “We’re proud to be working with Community Integrated Care to make a positive difference and further expand the work of our legacy programme to deliver genuine social impact across communities. Inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do, and we look forward to working together to engage people with a support need and their careers in the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever.
“This visit wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Paul Sculthorpe and Rhino Rugby League, another of our legacy programme partners, and I’d like to thank them for their continued support.”