The rugby family has been demonstrating its community spirit once again during Mental Health Awareness Week with many clubs and groups reaching out to those most in need.
The theme of the week has been kindness – to ourselves as well as others and this is what we are seeing on a weekly basis from clubs, staff and volunteers throughout the game. Whether it’s keeping in touch with vulnerable members of our communities by picking up the phone, or coordinating fundraising efforts which raise the spirit of all those involved in the physical challenge and provide much-needed support to the recipients, we have seen rugby clubs and groups come together more than ever before, if virtually.
From Treharris RFC who are feeding key workers and vulnerable people throughout their area, Brecon who have donated more than £11 000 towards well-being and mental health of NHS patients, their families and staff through their Sponsor a Sheep campaign, to individuals organising group calls and quizzes to keep people engaged, there have been no limits to what clubs and individuals are prepared to undertake and mental well-being is clearly a subject close to everyone’s hearts.
And now, Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd have been out in the Cardiff area delivering electronic tablets to 65 care homes in order to enable residents and staff to video call their loved ones.
The club raised more than £11 800 in their Circuit of Wales challenge. Club members wanted to bring the club together and make a difference to the NHS and key workers during lockdown so set out to complete a virtual run around Wales over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Players of all ages, along with coaches, volunteers and their families, spent their exercise hour walking and running and submitting their distances. In the end they clocked 4 120 miles – equating to four laps of the country!
Club second team captain Chris Jones was the one totting up the virtual miles. He said, “As a group of players, we were really keen to help in some way. First of all, the physical challenge was good for our own mental health and it was great to see the photos and videos coming in from club members of all ages out walking and running with their CRCC tops on. We have a few doctors and NHS workers amongst our players and former players so we asked for their advice in terms of what was needed. When the sponsorship money first came in, we bought and delivered edible treats and toiletries for hospital staff in South Wales and funded the school-based production of some protective equipment but the miles just kept coming in and with them the money.
“We had a target of £6000 but we have now reached more than £11 800. On chatting to the health professionals within the club, we were advised that by purchasing tablets for care homes, we could make a big difference to many who are isolated from their families at this time. We are thrilled that our efforts to #KeepWalesConnected will enable more than 3000 residents to video call their friends and families.
“In addition to Cardiff care homes, we wanted to connect with other areas around Wales – to make stronger links with other rugby clubs and also because many of our players and members are originally from all over Wales so we wanted to reach out to some of the places they have links with too. So we contacted 40 clubs in places that we virtually ‘passed through’ on our circuit of Wales and we’re delivering a tablet to them to pass on to a care home on our behalf. We have already built on our relationships with other clubs through doing this, which will no doubt help when rugby resumes, it means our fundraising is helping people all over Wales and perhaps if players from other areas move to Cardiff one day, they might make contact with us.”
Whatever happens in the future, the club can be very proud of their efforts during this time and will no doubt be stronger as a result.