A story by Trust Rugby International
Our project promoted integration, social connectedness and activity opportunities that supported the development of 50 young people to become integrated with mainstream sport and social activities by bringing together teams that Trust Rugby International have to date in the West and East of Scotland.
What Wee Clans did
We delivered weekly session in Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeenshire. These sessions are unified, which allows groups to integrate and be socially active, whether you have a disability or not by using sport. We have also managed to get more of our groups who struggled with transport issues to attend Clan training, thanks to Trust Rugby International's Taxi.
As part of the project, we have taken some of our group to the International Wooden Spoon Festival TAG Festival in Witney, Oxfordshire. We organised several social events such as a Christmas gathering for all the Clan groups in Glasgow and again utilised the use of Trust Rugby International's Taxis to support individuals with travel arrangements.
All our participants who came along to take part are groups we have partnered with, giving increased opportunity to take part in rugby sessions – two of the groups are Super Kids from East Renfrewshire and Merkland School in Kirkintilloch. The partnerships worked well as it gave us the opportunity to work closely with the children and their parents to meet the needs.
The group is mainly run by parents and it was great to work close with them to develop the activities and to see the encouragement given for their child to take part in the activity as with previous projects, interacting with parents has always been the most challenging area for us. With all our sessions, provided is an opportunity for parents/carers to have some respite care. An example of this is one of our parents in the Glasgow session drops off her son and goes to the local coffee shop to read her book as at home she gets constant interruptions. She has told us numerous times she looks forward to the sessions because she know her son enjoys the rugby sessions and it helps her to relax more to have some ‘me’ time. It just shows, respite can be a few hours to recharge is sometimes enough of parents/carers.
A highlight of the programme was that we held a parents get together where 6 out of 20 parents turned up. Although this number is low, it is a break through for us as previously we had no response so this gave us an opportunity to speak to the parents about the programme and find out their needs going forward.
What Trust Rugby International has learned
Our learning from this programme has been working in partnership with so many groups and has helped us deliver the programme and give more people the opportunity to take part in it. This has also allowed us to work closer with families that need our support the most for their young person to become more physically and socially active. Working closely with the parents, we have noticed more of a change in their young ones and how they link with ourselves.
An example from a parent is that when the rugby block had finished with the East Renfrewshire group, her son was disappointed that there was not a rugby session on the next block of activities. Also, working with parents we have learned what we see as a successful session, by hearing the positive way in which their son/daughter is developing. As with all sessions we run at Trust Rugby International, we want everybody to enjoy the session and be active within every session. With working with some of our new partner groups, we have learned that success may even be just the young person touching the rugby ball or even saying hello to you rather than being fully involved in the class.
Increase the participation levels of young people attending weekly activity sessions from 30 to 50 young people
Our numbers have increased and exceeded expectations this year with 85 young people attending weekly sessions. Through working with partners at Super Kids group, and Merkland School, wheelchair rugby as well as running our Wee Clan sessions in Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeenshire.
Sarah Story During our session at East Renfrewshire, there was only one girl in the class, Sarah. Before the block of 6 weeks started, we were given information that Sarah may not turn up to the session or may even want to leave half way through the session because she has high anxiety levels when it comes to new activities and audiences. We worked with Super Kids to help get her along to the first session by giving them a set plan of the classes, photos of the coaches attending, so that she could have a visual representation of what to expect and see when she arrives at the session. This helped Sarah to turn up to the first session and took her time to join in with the rest for the group. However, by the end of the first class she was participating fully in the class and even won our cool down game, where all eyes were on her – this is something she would normal hide away from. As the weeks went on, Sarah turned up every week and took part in the session and you could see her confidence grow week by week. Towards the end of the block, Sarah’s confidence had grown that much that she started to help out the younger participants in the group – she truly has come ‘out of her shell’ so much so that she came to watch a senior Clan game. Her mum cannot believe the transformation and that she has done something outwith her normal routine and acknowledged that the rugby sessions and Trust Rugby International have caught her imagination and would like this to continue. Sarah also attend our Christmas night, which was another personal achievement as these types of events, being in bigger crowds and new places usually trigger an anxiety episode but she was determined to have a good night with our new found friends, and she definitely achieved her goal. After the Christmas break, we met up with Sarah and her mother, Susan. Susan thanked us for taking Sarah ‘under our wing’, looking out for her during the night and breaking down the barriers of challenges in everyday life by participating in rugby. Susan told us, she and her husband were able to attend a Christmas night with friends – first in many years! As it turns out, Sarah turned 18 and would no longer be able to attend the Super kids group, which is a shame as she really enjoyed the rugby sessions. We then spoke with Sarah and her parents and as a result Sarah now attends our Clan sessions in Ayrshire as a player and as a volunteer to support us with some of our players that may need a little more support. When Sarah found out she was going to be helping us out and the rugby would not have to stop, her family had said "I've never seen her so enthusiastic about something, I'm so grateful to you (the Clan Coaches) and the rest of the team". We have seen Sarah grow in self-confidence and a reduction in her anxiety levels and is know keen to start playing rugby herself. After seeing how much Sarah has enjoyed being part of the Clan we are going to be concentrating more on getting a ladies Unfied team up and running. Even though our sessions are open to all it attracts mostly males. We are going to focus more in the future to recruit more females and hopefully create the same environment that has help Sarah through her time with us. Speaking to Sarah’s mum recently she has said "Thank you for making Sarah feel so welcome, it is a first for us to see her so engaged and she's really relaxed and comfortable with you all".
Carers of disabled children and young people (and those they care for) will have improved well-being Target 1 - Build on the monthly activities programme by incorporating 2 breaks a month for 8-10 young people to attend, and Target 2 - Create a pathway of suitable activities for young people
We have brought together our wee Clan groups with the adult Clan and his has helped players from the wee Clan turning of age and playing for the senior Clan. With them wanting to play for the senior Clan this has helped to create the pathway for them to develop in rugby and to build on their social integration.
Aron has been coming to our out-of-school class in Dalmellington for four years and has been comfortable attending the session in the school. We have seen him develop within his rugby skills and have tried to encourage him to attend our Clan sessions but has always found an excuse not to attend. We have also, over the years, tired to work with his parents. Aron was adamant that he only wanted to play rugby in his local area but over the years we have chipped away at this by inviting him attend Clan sessions every couple of month, as well as the local session and got him to bring a friend along with him each time, we then went with a session a month with him attending. We have seen him grow further and is now training every week and he is set to make his first game for the senior Clan in May when he turns 18.
Provided a pick up and drop of service for the activities programme for participants who are not yet able to travel independently. Organised 4-5 social gatherings in the year to allow carers and parents to interact outwith their caring roles to build friendships
To support our participants and their carers we work with, we set up our pick-up and drop-off service to some of the Trust Rugby International activities. This has allowed us to give the carers more time for themselves to do what they are interested in and reduce the worry of getting to and from the session, turning up on time etc as this can sometimes be stressful for participates and their carers. With having the Trust Rugby International Taxi available this helped to take away this pressure from everyone involved. We also supported the carers by having social events. These included a touch rugby festival, Film night, Race night, Christmas party, Progress evenings, and we also used our Clan games as an opportunity for our parents and carers to meet up, creating new friendships. All these events would give the carers the opportunity to see the progress their young person has done, speak to the coaches/originators and more importantly a chance to meet other parents and relax in each other company.
With the Trust Rugby International Taxis, we have seen this having a big impact on a few of our families, as many are single parents. This is the case for one of our families, where mum has three teenagers to look after. Her son comes to our rugby session, which is local to them in Ayrshire, and has shown good progress and has said that he is really keen to attend classes at our Clan sessions in Kilmarnock. Sadly, before we had the Trust Rugby International taxi he was not able to attend as his mum had to work or she had younger sisters to look after. Due to the young man’s disability, he was not able to use public transport as he would either get lost or was easily distracted and would go off track on what his task of getting to the rugby session. An example of this is that last year his mum asked him to go to the local shop for bread and milk, which would be a 10 minute round trip. Three hours later the young man turned up with no milk or bread. It turns out that he meet one of his school friends on the way to the shops and he went off with him and forgotten all about going to the shops. When he was away with his friend you can only imagine what his mother went through and the worry that he was safe and well. We hope that the programme has provided him with some key life skills, even if it is just to inform someone you are safe. With the Trust Rugby International taxi we were able to support the young player get to training to allow him to enjoy his rugby and be with his friends in a safe environment. Since then he has come down to training in Ayrshire, he has started playing games with the Clans and has been with the team to Edinburgh and Glasgow. With him getting picked up from his front door and being dropped off there after the games, this makes his mum more relaxed and gives her more time to spend with her other two kids. The young players mum has said to us that not only is it making a difference to the young man’s life, as he would normally be in his room on his Xbox or only allowed to go out with his parents there, coming to the rugby sessions and games has given him the opportunity to do what every other 19 your old is doing and spending time with his friends and being active. Knowing that her son is able to be with his friends in a safe environment allow her to relax when he is with us.
Develop 3 new partnerships with other sporting establishments to provide taster opportunities for the young people to experience. Develop working relationships with 6 sport centres/gyms to gain access to run activities programme to compliment the rugby programme
We are in the process of establishing a partnership agreement with Basketball Scotland. We have also a partnership agreement with East Ayrshire Council Vibrant Communities to deliver the wheelchair rugby session, which encompasses access to local leisure facilities, support with transportation given the rural nature of this community. This partnership has also allowed us to become part of the East Ayrshire Disability Sports Partnership, which has connected us with other sports such as swimming, athletics, football and a multi-activity group. We worked closely with a parent group Super Kids to develop a programme and also work closely with the parents to help us develop the programme.
Being part of the East Ayrshire Disability Partnership has help us to open more doors to identify people to get involved with us, and has help us spread the word of the work we are doing. An example of this would be for us to be part of the sports activity calendar where information on Trust Rugby International was sent to every primary and secondary school in the local authority area. This has helped raise awareness of our work and has also increased our referrals. With this a disability multi sports sessions has stated running at Ayrshire College, which Trust Rugby International supply adapted wheelchairs and supply coaches to deliver each session to give young people more options and actives to take part in. This is a partnership that will carry on for us and we will continue to work with all the groups in the partnerships to supply and support as many young people attend sporting activities.
Actively engage with carers and set up regional working groups to make sure participants, parents and carers have consistent opportunities to input
We have recently established the Trust Rugby International Tour Committee, with the focus of supporting Trust Rugby International to plan any forthcoming trips. Our plan is once we obtain regular engagement, we would like to encourage parents/carers of the young people to be part of this Committee. Also we have set up a committee to support the running of the Clans. Both these committees are made up of coaches and parents/carers. As well as the groups, we have also spoken and worked with parents/carers on a 1-2-1 basis, thus giving them the opportunity to raise any issues that they may not feel comfortable about raising in a group setting.
Setting up our committee for the Clans (Trust Rugby International Unified Rugby Club) helped to make the rugby club more sustainable going forward. This is done with the support of parents/carers and coaches on the group, as our players in the group have different abilities and qualities. There are nine on the committee from all the areas we cover in Scotland. Knowing this committee is established provides additional support for other parents/carers and our players to be aware they can bring anything to the table. We have seen an increased number of parents speaking to committee members on a 1-2-1 basis as they may not want to attend our events but still want to support their son/daughter. One of the players’ mothers is very shy and struggles with attending games and events but she has built a rapport with one of the committee members and now communicates via this route to provide input to any meetings/events that are being organised.