Bristol Rugby’s Bright Sparks Programme Honoured

Bristol Rugby’s Bright Sparks programme landed the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award at the seventh All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening.

The programme, run by former Bristol winger Ben Breeze, is aimed at educating secondary school children who are ‘at risk’ from persistent non-attendance, permanent exclusion, low educational attainment, poor behaviour and/or low self esteem.

Using the ethos surrounding rugby, Breeze, 38, and his team work in partnership with Bristol’s secondary schools to deliver life-changing interventions for the city’s most disaffected young people.

Bright Sparks is now in its sixth year and shows no sign of slowing down, with 80 young people this year growing to 120 next, with hundreds having already been positively affected by its work and Head of Community at Premiership Rugby Wayne Morris believes that longevity is crucial.

He said: “The Bright Sparks programme has been in development for a number of years and it’s been entered into the innovation category in the past, it has been a fantastic journey.

“It now works with some really excluded people within schools as well as directly with school exclusion officers and local partners to look at young people within school environments who would benefit most from the programme, and what that does is provide an alternative method of learning.

“There’s been some fantastic results in attendance but young kids who would come out of school traditionally, from being expelled or having come out with no qualifications, are also engaging in this programme. Every young person who lasts the first term ends up with a qualification.”

The awards were run in association with The All Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, Premiership Rugby, partners Aviva, Land Rover and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and media partner SportBusiness Group.

And Morris insists the influence of Premiership Rugby can continue over the next 12 months and beyond.

He added: “The big advantage we’ve got is we’ve got an emotive brand and we’ve got some very unique assets in players.

“They are great role models and ambassadors but we also have stadia which enthuse and inspire people, and we can utilise rugby as a mechanic to get to people excited, whether it be about health changes, education, employment opportunities, it provides them with a different opportunity to what they face normally.”

For the results of the All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards visit www.premiershiprugby.com

Saracens Retain The Aviva Club Of The Year Award

SARACENS landed yet another prize at the seventh All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening – this time retaining the prestigious Aviva Club of the Year Award.

Sarries were presented with the award in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons for demonstrating overall excellence in their community work.

Saracens’ Community Team runs 27 community projects, has 54 partner rugby clubs and 34 partner schools and is known for its outstanding community work reaching over 70,000 young people every year. It is the fourth time that the club has won the award.

One of those projects is Get Onside, which teaches 15 to 21 year olds at Feltham Young Offenders Institute rugby’s basic skills, the rules and the sport’s values in a ten-week course.

Saracens’ link with the institute’s PE department has the specific aim of building young offenders’ confidence and improving their social inclusion, helping bring down the alarming statistic that 70 per cent of youngsters who leave Feltham are back within three months.

And Head of Community at Premiership Rugby Wayne Morris believes the Hertfordshire-based club should take great credit for their work.

He said: “Saracens have consistently been one of our leading clubs and have won this award a couple of years on the trot.

“Their presentation was incredibly impressive. It is a model of best practice within rugby but not only that but also as a global leader across all sports, for a club-based community intervention programme.

“The programme’s incredibly comprehensive, it’s well-thought out, it’s well structured and it’s got some fantastic people working in there who have got a real passion for trying to change young people’s lives and provide them with opportunities.

“They’re not working from a traditional rugby hotspot either, north London is not the easiest part the country to base this from.”

The awards were run in association with The All Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, Premiership Rugby, partners Aviva, Land Rover and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and media partner SportBusiness Group.

And Morris insists the influence of Premiership Rugby can continue over the next 12 months and beyond.

He added: “The big advantage we’ve got is we’ve got an emotive brand and we’ve got some very unique assets in players.

“They are great role models and ambassadors but we also have stadia which enthuse and inspire people, and we can utilise rugby as a mechanic to get to people excited, whether it be about health changes, education, employment opportunities, it provides them with a different opportunity to what they face normally.”

For the results of the All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards visit www.premiershiprugby.com

Northampton Saints Pick Up Top Community Award

NORTHAMPTON Saints’ Club Apprenticeship Scheme won the Land Rover Innovation Award at the seventh All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening.

The scheme, which began last September, takes on 16-18-year-olds who are not in education or employment and invites them onto a 26-week programme working behind the scenes at Franklin’s Gardens while gaining several qualifications in the process.

From more than 100 who applied, 10 were selected to learn the ropes in a number of areas, from ticketing and media, to helping in the study centre, retail and conferencing.

Even before the award it has proved a real success, with many of those involved looking at longer-term employment over the summer.

And Head of Community at Premiership Rugby Wayne Morris believes the future looks bright for those who have benefited from Saints’ good work.

He said: “The judges felt that the Northampton Club Apprenticeship Scheme was a very innovative programme.

“Rather than just using sport as a mechanic just to train people as in traditional sports apprenticeship schemes, the ability to use all of the departments and all of the expertise across the rugby business within the club to provide a broader base of knowledge for those young people was the decisive factor.

“Each person that goes on to the scheme gets rotated through the programme so they work in each of the club’s departments for a period of time where they learn a broad base of skills. The advantage of that is that they understand how each individual element works.

“They’re working with some of the most disadvantaged young people and disadvantaged communities around Northampton and really targeting young people who haven’t had much of an opportunity – and providing those opportunities which will hopefully lead the young people to go into full-time employment, either with the club or with them being introduced to their sponsors, partners and funders so we’re providing sustainable job outcomes for those people as well.”

The awards were run in association with The All Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, Premiership Rugby, partners Aviva, Land Rover and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and media partner SportBusiness Group.

And Morris insists the influence of Premiership Rugby can continue over the next 12 months and beyond.

He added: “The big advantage we’ve got is we’ve got an emotive brand and we’ve got some very unique assets in players.

“They are great role models and ambassadors but we also have stadia which enthuse and inspire people, and we can utilise rugby as a mechanic to get to people excited, whether it be about health changes, education, employment opportunities, it provides them with a different opportunity to what they face normally.”

For the results of the All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards visitwww.premiershiprugby.com

Gloucester Rugby’s Community Heritage Project Nominated For The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award

Gloucester Rugby’s Community Heritage Project is all about teaching others the club’s history but they could make their own after being nominated for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award at this year’s All Party Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards.

The initiative is spearheaded by Gloucester’s community manager Gary Little and aims to educate schoolchildren in and around the Gloucestershire area with a rugby slant.

In all 17,000 children have benefitted from the scheme, with Little’s community team providing learning packs to over 300 schools.

It all started four years ago when the Aviva Premiership side were undergoing redevelopment at their Kingsholm Stadium home and Little stumbled across the collection of club memorabilia and records.

Sensing an opportunity to enlighten others, he decided to make the rarely-seen pieces of Gloucester’s history available to others and it has gone from strength to strength since.

Little said: “We were redeveloping the new stand and we had to move the masses of memorabilia and records we had.

“After discussions we decided it would be great to use the material as an educational resource to engage the community and inspire young people.

“That was the catalyst for the project but little did I know four years down the line how big it would become.

“We try to use rugby as metaphor, rugby can provide a more exciting backdrop to the normal lessons and it has been remarkably successful.

“We provide a resource pack and the teachers can use that, as well as us going into schools and giving lessons ourselves.

“The players are involved too. There are a variety of different levels to it and they take some tag rugby lessons while at the higher end they talk to children about taking up rugby coaching and giving sports education lessons.”

The awards, which are in their seventh year, are being run in association with The All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, Premiership Rugby, partners Aviva, Land Rover and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and media partner SportBusiness Group.
And Little admits that even if Gloucester’s nomination proves fruitless, the joys of the project will live on.

He added: “Even though I work at the club, along the way over these past four years I’ve learnt a lot more about the club.

“And with the history side of things and the size of the club, it’s a never ending cycle. It will go on for years.”

For the results of the All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards which will be announced on Wednesday see www.premiershiprugby.com

Saracens’ Love to Dance programme shortlisted

Saracens knew their dance programme for over-50s was changing lives when its Hertfordshire participants suggested they start paying for classes to ensure they continue– and its impact has been further recognised with a Premiership Rugby Community Award nomination.

Love to Dance currently runs 12 regular classes across the county and its four full-time instructors are in contact with more than 200 people every week.

On top of learning various dance styles including jive, salsa and rock & roll, the programme provides local people with a relaxed environment in which to get fit and make new friends.

While Love to Dance is on the shortlist for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award, coming out on top will not be easy as Bristol’s Bright Sparks programme and Gloucester’s Community Heritage Project are also in the running.

Saracens have a pedigree for walking off with top prizes for dance projects as their Community Dance Programme won a Sportbusiness CSR Award in 2009.

And this year they are also up for the prestigious Aviva Club of the Year as well as a Land Rover Innovation Award for Get Onside.

The winners will be announced at an evening reception in the historic Churchill Room at the House of Commons on June 27 and community dance manager Clare Bellchambers is keeping her fingers crossed that the judges will be as impressed as the programme’s members.

“The first time we ran the programme, with funding from Hertfordshire County Council, we just did ten sessions for free and we gave out some questionnaires after asking if they wouldn’t mind paying a small fee to help continue the course,” said Bellchambers.

“The response was amazing. They said they didn’t like coming for free and that we had such a good class that not paying for it was wrong.

“So now the sessions cost four pounds for two hours. Because we’ve got funding until next May that money is going into a pot so that if it ends next year we can maintain the course for a bit.

“For us the programme isn’t just about their getting over-50s active, there’s a social aspect too.

“Some people say it is a reason for them to get out of the house, otherwise they’d be stuck in doors.

“That’s why we have a coffee and tea break halfway through the class to give them a chance to socialise.”

With Saracens moving their home ground from Vicarage Road to Copthall for next season, Bellchambers is hoping to open up Love to Dance to a new audience in Barnet.

And she believes that winning the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award would go a long way to securing future funds for expansion.

“It would be great to win the award as it will help make people more aware of the programme as we seek more funding,” she added.

“We want to branch out in to new areas and with the stadium in Barnet we want to get something set up there and it would be great to show them that it works really well having won this award.”

For the results of the All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards see www.premiershiprugby.com

Saracens programme at Feltham Young Offenders Institute praised

Saracens aren’t just doing their tackling on a rugby field as the club’s Get Onside project takes on Feltham Young Offenders Institute’s re-offenders, earning them an All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Award nomination.

Running for the first time in September 2011, Get Onside teaches 15 to 21 year olds at Feltham rugby’s basic skills, the rules and the sport’s values in a ten-week course.

Saracens’ link with the institute’s PE department has the specific aim of building young offenders’ confidence and improving their social inclusion, helping bring down the alarming statistic that 70 per cent of youngster who leave Feltham are back within three months.

Although shortlisted for the Land Rover Innovation Award, Get Onside faces stiff competition to win the accolade outright from Northampton’s Club Apprenticeship Scheme.

Saracens has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Aviva Club of the Year award, while its Love To Dance programme could pick up the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award at an evening reception in the historic Churchill Room at the House of Commons on June 27.

Saracens sports development officer James Coles has seen Get Onside grow from a pilot scheme last year to now having helped 24 young people, of which only one has re-offended, but admits it only came about in the first place by a chance conversation.

“We were working at Datchworth RFC and I was chatting with someone who was involved at Feltham,” said Coles.

“I asked if maybe I could come down and do a session. I ended up doing it as a one off but then thought, ‘actually there is a real opportunity there’.

“There are about 650 lads there and current statistics say that 70 percent will be back in three months.

“I thought there must be something we can do to make a difference because that is ridiculous.

“It would be fantastic to see the programme recognised with the award and great for us because it gives it a bit of credibility.”

Although each Get Onside course has a ten-week life span, Saracens’ commitment to its youngsters extends well beyond.

Of the 30 participants who’ve started the two courses; 24 completed it, of whom 12 were released early and seven remain in contact with the club.

“Once they’ve finished the programme we help them in locating and joining a rugby club and supporting them in education or employment,” added Coles.

“That can be through helping them write their CV or giving them a job reference or getting them involved as a volunteer with the Hitz programme.

“We are learning as much as the lads though and we’re changing a few bits and pieces all the time to make the course better and hopefully it will be around a long time to come.”

As part of the programme a rugby team made up of inmates from Feltham Young Offenders Institute won their first ever rugby match.

Abdi Mohammed, who turned down early release to complete the programme said: “Taking part in ‘Get Onside’ gave me lots of opportunities. I want to do some coaching now and pass on what I have learnt but have only just started playing rugby so I will need a lot more practise.”

Feltham lined-up to face Southgate College in the match.The Feltham team consisted mostly of the programme participants, but had three prison officers integrated into the squad to add much needed experience and leadership.

The unique dynamic between the young men and officers was clear from the outset, with the team pulling together to record a well contested 15-5 victory for Feltham.

The day was rounded up with a presentation from Saracens star Hayden Smith, who has regularly visited the prison to mentor inmates and aid with coaching.

Hayden Smith said: “This project has shown to be a shining light for the young men involved. Sport can often provide the discipline and inspiration to get on in life, and I’m impressed by the hard work shown by the inmates at Feltham.”