Thirty people from the charity Community Integrated Care were invited as guests of honour to the St Helens R.F.C. versus Huddersfield Giants rugby league game on Friday 7th April, offering a unique match day experience for people supported, their families and carers.
The event was arranged as part of Community Integrated Care’s new partnership with the rugby league club. Guests comprised of people from across eight care services in St Helens, including residents from Eccleston Court Care Home, some of whom live with dementia, and adults with learning disabilities, mental health concerns and autism.
The highlight of the evening came when the club invited people supported by the charity onto the pitch before kick-off to have their photograph taken with several of the first team players including James Roby and Luke Thompson.
As a special gesture from the club, every person from the charity received a St Helens R.F.C. scarf to cheer on their favourite team and take home as a keepsake.
Speaking of his match day experience, JP who lives at a supported living service in St Helens, told his support worker, “I love The Saints. I was really happy that we got to have our picture taken and meet the players. It’s been a great day!”
As well as special match-day experience, the partnership between the charity and rugby club has also seen professional community coaches deliver fun and inclusive health and wellbeing fitness sessions to people supported by the charity.
Liz Donnelly, Regional Manager for Community Integrated Care’s Cheshire region, said: “Many people we support are passionate fans of St Helens R.F.C., so to come together with their support staff and loved ones to see their heroes on the pitch was a truly unforgettable experience. We’d like to thank St Helens R.F.C. for their incredible generosity in inviting us as their guests of honour.”
She adds, “As well as this fantastic match day experience, the people we support have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the weekly activity sessions. It’s brilliant to see the town’s club reaching out to the community in this way, improving the lives of people with learning disabilities and mental health concerns.”
Steve Leonard, Manager of The Saints Community Development Foundation which runs the partnership, said: “We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and community based club. It was a pleasure to be able to welcome so many people from Community Integrated Care to tonight’s game. The team has really enjoyed getting to know everyone over the past few months and I hope they enjoyed today’s match experience just as much as we’ve enjoyed hosting them.”