Jun 23, 2015
GET ONSIDE! Programme up for Premiership Award
Saracens’ GET ONSIDE! programme has been shortlisted in the Premiership Rugby Community Awards.
GET ONSIDE! is a personal development project that uses rugby to engage young men at Feltham Young Offenders Institute, helping them to make life changes which reduce their chances of reoffending and support their resettlement after release and has been shortlisted alongside Bath Rugby’s ‘Stickability’ campaign for the BreakThru Award.
The programme, that is supported by club sponsor CME Group, has also seen Saracens players train alongside inmates in Feltham, with the squad taking a training session on the road to the Young Offenders Institute in February in the build-up to the clubs LV=Cup clash against Exeter Chiefs in February.
The BreakThru Award is designed to reward a programme or one-off piece of activity that delivers a significant social change in the clubs' local community. And whoever picks up the award at the House of Commons on 24 June, Saracens and Bath are already winners, having influenced their community in extraordinary ways through their own bespoke programmes.
Saracens hooker Jamie George, who was named Aviva Community Player of the Year last month, has also been heavily involved in the initiative. George said: “In the seven years I’ve been at Saracens one of the most rewarding parts of my job has been my work with the Saracens Sport Foundation, and in particular, the ‘GET ONSIDE!’ Programme.
[caption id="attachment_41497" align="alignnone" width="760"] Saracens hooker Jamie George has been heavily involved with the programme[/caption]
“The programme uses sport as the vehicle to engage young people from challenging backgrounds, with a particular focus on those who are youngsters who are not in full time education or some sort of training.
“We have been working with the inmates of the Feltham Young Offenders Institute since 2011, preparing and training them to play alongside prison officers and their fellow inmates on the same rugby team in a one off fixture at the end if the cycle.
“The programme has offered rugby qualifications, educational modules, as well as teamwork, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in every cycle of the project, since its inception.
“What I’ve witnessed, and continually taken away from the scheme, is that the young men who have made some wrong choices in life DO show a willingness to change and through GET ONSIDE! have bought into the Saracens values."
George added: “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 year after year, I’ve been impressed by the hard work shown by the inmates at Feltham.”
On receiving their nomination, Saracens Sport Foundation Inclusion Development Manager, Owain Davies said: “We’re delighted that the Get Onside! project has been recognised for the significant change it is creating in the community.
[caption id="attachment_41498" align="alignnone" width="760"] GET ONSIDE! is supported by Club Sponsors CME Group[/caption]
"It is a project which is really dealing with young people in our country with some of the most challenging circumstances in society - they must want to change, but often need help in order to do so. We look forward to sharing our work with the judging panel, and going head-to-head with our friends at Bath again”
Comic Relief sports partnership manager, Sam Shave admits it was the innovation shown across both projects that caught the eye of the judges.
"It was really interesting to be involved in the judging process,” he said. "There were a number of really good projects put forward that are making a difference.
"We were looking for innovation, we wanted to see what the club was doing and how they thought differently.
"Second, the outcome and what they've been able to achieve and the two clubs projects shortlisted are really good case studies.
"Both Bath and Saracens work all year round and it's often the community foundation which is the unsung heroes and it's nice to be able to give back.
"GET ONSIDE! is an innovative programme like no other. Saracens has done something many other clubs would stay clear of."
Chris Brockhurst, of the Department for Education, echoed those thoughts – and believes both clubs have set a shining example for all.
"Both shortlisted programmes address really tough issues – how to reduce reoffending rates and how to build character and resilience among school children,” he added.
"In both cases, the results are impressive. Both reflect the strength of the game, its values and the effectiveness of the community teams at the shortlisted clubs.
"I'd recommend anyone involved in offender rehabilitation or in the 'character education' field to look at the work going on.”
The winner will be announced at the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group Premiership Rugby Community Awards on 24 June at the House of Commons.
- GET ONSIDE! – Saracens
- Stickability – Bath Rugby Foundation