100 people from the charity Community Integrated Care watched Widnes Vikings beat Catalans Dragons this weekend, giving a special day out to people with care and support needs, their families, volunteers and dedicated staff.
This visit represented an unprecedented effort by a social care charity and a sports club to enable as many people as possible with support needs to enjoy a professional sports match together. It was arranged as part of Community Integrated Care’s pioneering partnership with the Super League club, and saw people from more than 10 care services enjoy a great day out together. This included people supported at three specialist dementia care services, and also a number of community based services that support people with learning disabilities, mental health concerns and autism.
The match day experience, which has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from people supported by the charity and their loved ones, was poignantly topped off when the club’s recent signing, Jack Buchanan, ran from the pitch after the club’s victory to greet people supported at St Luke’s Specialist Dementia Care Home. He spent time meeting fans from the care home, including Fred Allen, who has passionately watched Widnes Vikings since being a small boy and was delighted to attend his first home game in many years.
Fred told his support staff straight after the experience, “This is my first game in years and I’m gobsmacked! Widnes Vikings have got the best fans – it’s been brilliant to hear them cheering again. I can’t believe I got to meet the player, Jack, too. It’s been the best day!”
Widnes Vikings and Community Integrated Care, a national social care charity that was formed and is based in Widnes, have formed possibly the most ambitious partnership between a professional sports club and a social care charity. This sees the two organisations deliver a host of innovative activity every week promoting the happiness, health and wellbeing of the people it supports, its colleagues and the wider community.
John Hughes, Head of Communications and Marketing at Community Integrated Care, says: “Many people we support are passionate fans of Widnes Vikings, have special memories of watching the club, or simply love great days out. This unprecedented effort by our charity and the club enabled 100 people from our community to watch a game together. Enabling so many people who receive support to be part of this, many of whom have complex needs, is an incredible feat and is a testament to the passion of our staff, volunteers and family members.”
He adds, “It was incredible to see the joy this experience brought to our guests – people with dementia remembering their favourite times watching the club, our fans soaking up the big match day atmosphere, and families coming together for a great day out. We’d like to thank Widnes Vikings for their incredible generosity in donating these 100 tickets, as well as their dedicated efforts to help make this big idea a reality.”
Richard Munson, Community Integrated Director at Widnes Vikings, says: “Widnes Vikings prides itself on being an inclusive club and on giving back to its local community. It was a pleasure to be able to do this on such a big scale, by welcoming so many people from Community Integrated Care. I hope they enjoyed the day as much as we did hosting them! As a club we are committed to making our partnership with Community Integrated Care one of the most innovative community schemes in the country – by once again breaking new boundaries, by enabling so many people to go the game, we are making this vision a reality.”