We’re delighted to announce that Tackling Numbers has been shortlisted for the Best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme in the Card & Payment Awards.

Tackling Numbers, taken by Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

Tackling Numbers, taken by Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

Tackling Numbers is an interactive numeracy programme for young children, developed and delivered by Premiership Rugby in partnership with MBNA. The five week programme aims to teach 8-9 year olds the importance of number skills in everyday life.

Rugby is a social game that unites and brings people from all over the world together, and so it’s great to see rugby’s ability to engage with children being used to engage kids in the classroom. The programme utilizes the power of rugby to promote the understanding and learning of numeracy in a fun and enjoyable way, and the classroom sessions are supported by practical PE sessions that unite an active mind with an active body.

The winner will be announced on 1st February 2012, so check back then to find out if we’ve won!

Tackling exclusion through HITZ

HITZ is a high profile programme that is based in the heart of inner city estates, targeting young people at risk of exclusion and anti social behaviour. It introduces them to tag, touch and contact rugby and encourages them to take their game further.

HITZ session

HITZ session

I have seen for myself the huge impact that HITZ has on young people’s lives.

For example, John* first picked up a rugby ball when he was sixteen, a year and a half ago. He had never played the game before, and was uncertain in himself and in his skills. Now John is going into schools to coach younger children, gaining leadership and coaching experience as well as developing his own rugby skills.

In another case, Chantelle* previously didn’t think that girls could play rugby. When she first joined HITZ earlier this year, she was quiet, shy and withdrawn. Six months on, she bounds into each session, grin on her face. Her mother and teachers alike can’t believe how much confidence she has changed – “she’s like a totally different person now”.

These are just a couple of examples of the ways in which HITZ impacts positively lives of those young people that take part in the sessions, which are run at key times after school.

It is not just the participants who make the sessions special though – the dedicated rugby players who run them have developed a deep understanding of the young people they are working with.

They develop working relationships with the teachers in the local schools, get to know the participant’s peers and take a genuine interest in their lives – from their GSCE results to advising them when they are in trouble.

And some of them are in trouble – it is thought around a third of those participating in the sessions were known to the police. The sessions tackle social exclusion as well as delivering health outputs. Running sessions with the Met police encourage stronger relationships between the police and young people, helping bridge the gaps that seemed evident in the recent riots across the UK.

This, combined with teaching participants how to develop their emotions (a huge 73 per cent say that the sessions has helped them control their anger), means that the young people taking part are able to feel part of their communities, and reduces their likelihood of offending.

It is telling that HITZ is getting bigger – more young people are taking part and going on to coach themselves, more teachers are coming to us thrilled with the effect that HITZ is having on individuals in their classes, and more sessions being run throughout London boroughs – and I am looking forward to it becoming bigger still.

*names have been changed to protect identities

Healthy Stadia

The “Healthy Stadia Conference”, taking place in The Arena and Convention Centre, Liverpool, is the first ever European wide Healthy Stadia Conference and shows the recognition sport is getting as a tool for dealing with social and community issues.

Using sports stadia as a hub for broadcasting messages and educating consumers can be particularly effective, as it provides a channel to reach those who are often least well informed about maintaining their own health: men. Statistics show men are less inclined to see a doctor than women and have different needs when it comes to communication of health information to men. Stadia are, therefore, ideal ways of reaching this audience as those who visit sport stadia are disproportionately male.

Premier Rugby Limited sees the Healthy Stadia Conference as an innovative way of moving forward the debate about clubs and community.

Warriors npower Inclusive Tag Programme: Video

Here’s a video about the Worcester Warriors npower Inclusive Tag Programme, which just won the Impact Award at the 2009 Citizenship Awards:

Andy Reed MP on the value of grassroots sport

Andy Reed MP, a keen rugby supporter and judge of our annual Parliamentary Citizenship Awards, spoke last week at a Men’s Health Forum event in Manchester about using sport and sport stadia to improve men’s health. Rugby players can be great role models! Here’s the video:

Saracens and Bath share Community ‘Club of the Year’ Title

On Wednesday, representatives from Bath Rugby, Saracens and Newcastle Falcons all came to Portcullis House at Parliament to give presentations on their community work in front of a panel of judges in order to determine which club should be Community ‘Club of the Year.’

This whole process started last week, when a panel of assessors shortlisted Bath, Saracens and Newcastle for Club of the year and also determined the winners of the Innovation and Impact Awards, two new awards this year for individual programmes clubs are running.

Assessment Day

The assessors included representatives from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), Department of Health, Positive Futures, and the CSR Department of BT Wholesale. They reviewed materials that clubs submitted through Business in the Community’s Clubs that Count tracker.

Assessment Day

They awarded Bristol Rugby with the Innovation Award (for an innovative new programme started in the past 12 months) for its Inferno Programme, which tackles social inclusion by teaching rugby (and life) skills to young offenders at HMP Ashfield. Bath Rugby and Sale Sharks were also highly commended for their Language Through Sport and School of Hard Knocks programmes respectively.

Newcastle Falcons won the Impact Award (for an established programme able to demonstrate the positive impact it’s making on its community) for its Touch Rugby programme, which gets 950 adults active each year (40% of which are female, 35% of which haven’t done any form of physical activity in past year). Bath Rugby was also highly commended for its Wilts / Sportsmatch Girls Rugby Programme.

And then for the main event this past Wednesday: Bath Rugby, Saracens and Newcastle Falcons all gave their presentations before the judging panel, which included Derek Wyatt, Paul Farrelly, and Andy Reed, MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby Group, as well as Louise Poole, Head of Sponsorship at EDF Energy, Tanja Rasmussen, Community Investment Campaign Director, and Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premier Rugby.

Bath presenting at the final

The judges were impressed by the scale and scope of the community work they saw, and by the partnerships and investments the clubs have been making in their communities. In the end they awarded the ‘Club of the Year’ award to both Saracens and Bath Rugby—Saracens for their sheer professionalism and the way their community foundation that has continued to grow and innovate, and Bath for how far they’ve come in such a short time period and the way they put community work into the ethos of the club.

All the awards were presented at an evening reception at the House of Commons.

From left: Gordon Banks and Hannah Pirnie from Saracens, Louise Poole from EDF Energy, Jimmy Deane from Bath Rugby

Up next on the blog I’ll be posting the Powerpoint presentations from the finalists and video of the judges so you can hear what they thought in their own words.

Cystic Fibrosis Trust vs. Lords & MPs at Twickenham

Had the chance to watch a cracking charity match at Twickenham last week between a team representing the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Commons and Lords RFC. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust team beat the Lords and MPs 17-7. The CF Trust team included Joshua Jones, a singer with Cystic Fibrosis (right in the photo below), and RFU Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew was honorary captain of the MPs and Lords (left in photo).

Learn more about the Cystic Fibrosis Trust here; there’s also more about the match on the RFU site here.