“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair” – Nelson Mandela
As the Head of the Saracens Sport Foundation I have the great privilege of witnessing the power of sport every day. For almost 20 years, the Saracens Sport Foundation has used sport as the tool to engage and empower some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged people across our local communities. We simply could not do this vital work without the support of people like you.
There is no such thing as an ‘average’ week at the Foundation. Our work takes us into prisons, schools, care homes, pupil referral units, special educational needs schools and local housing estates. With projects that tackle everything from obesity; to loneliness; to reoffending… and so much more.
Over the last eight years, we have become specialists in supporting and enabling disabled people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to build better lives for themselves. We provide activities to suit the needs and demands of every disabled person.
Our Sarries Skills Club works with the most disabled young people with ASD. These incredible children and adults experience a whole range of difficulties linked with their disability. Some can’t communicate verbally, others experience ‘meltdowns’ when they feel overwhelmed, and most find it difficult to understand and relate to other people. They all have something in common…they will never be able to live fully independently as they all require 24-hour support from their parents or carers.
Every week, we use sport to engage these amazing individuals with activities that will enable them to learn new skills, improve their health and communicate more effectively. While the activities are running, we provide the parents, siblings and carers with some respite, which includes massages, games and a chillout area. This vital support provides the families with the chance to focus on themselves, talk to like-minded people who are going through similar challenges, make friends and relax.
We are one of very few charities or organisations who run projects for these disabled people with the most severe ASD. Unfortunately, this project is very expensive and difficult to fund as we must provide two or three carers for each beneficiary due to their complex needs. We have been using the funds raised at days like our Foundation Matchday to continue this much needed work. Simply, your generous donations have allowed us to deliver this fantastic project.
This year we have also launched some incredible new projects. Our principle partner Allianz have supported us to launch Wheelchair Rugby projects and teams. In the 2019/2020 season we will be providing over 500 people with the opportunity to participate in Wheelchair Rugby. We are passionate about giving every person with a disability the opportunity to regularly participate in sport and gain all the additional benefits of an active life.
Another incredible project that launched this season was our Feeding Futures programme supported by Burton Biscuits. This project tackled the significant issue of holiday hunger across Barnet. 66% of pupils attending the Saracens High School are eligible for free school meals. Up to one in three children on free school meals will experience hunger during holiday periods as their family struggle with relative poverty.
Feeding Futures provided these children with breakfast, lunch and some fantastic activities. We even took these children to the zoo, a first for many of the children that participated in the project In fact, one of the children asked if the animals would be ‘stuffed’ before we visited! We will also be supporting young people experiencing mental health conditions in the new year with our new Happy Minds project.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Saracen supporters, our donors and partners make this all possible. If you donate to the Foundation, you can be sure that we will use your money to provide some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged people across our communities with opportunities to transform their lives.
Our vision is simple, we are here to transform lives on and off the pitch to build stronger communities. With your support, we will provide impacts on over 30,000 people this season.
On behalf of all at the Saracens Sport Foundation and all our beneficiaries we would like to thank you for your ongoing support.
Head of Foundation