Strathmore Community Rugby Trust, founded in 2017 to increase public participation in sport in the Forfar, Kirriemuir and Brechin areas to benefit community health and well-being as well as develop young people into healthy, positive members of the community, is looking for sponsors for its Walking Rugby and Youth Unified rugby projects.
Its vision is to have Developing People Through Rugby become a routine and sustainable part of life in Angus in which the Trust continues to play a leading role.
It uses rugby as a tool to develop its players, coaches and volunteers as individuals through a series of programmes and projects centred around promoting the positive ethos and values of rugby as well as athletes and it develops their skills and confidence as well as improving health so they can give back to their community.
Its free hour-long Walking Rugby sessions, held currently at Forfar Community Campus on Mondays at 6.30pm and Fridays at 9.30am, allow anyone who no longer feels able to play the regular game but wants to get or stay active to do so through touch rugby as well as meet others with a similar interest.
They are ideal for older people and those recovering from injury and have been helping participants stay fit and have regular social contact since August 2018.
The Youth Unified project is a more recent addition to the trust’s programme and aims to enhance the confidence and social skills of young people with additional support needs (ASN) through free weekly touch rugby sessions for them and able-bodied young people in a fully inclusive environment.
The Wednesday after-school sessions are open to anyone of secondary school age who is able to walk unaided.
While there is no threat to these or the charity’s other projects at present thanks to existing sponsors Shepherd Chartered Surveyors, Stracathro Estates and Craignathro Farms, as well as grants and personal donations, trust chairperson Stuart Gray said that he expects funding to get tougher next year.
He said: “We currently rely to a large degree on grant funding from charitable and public bodies, but there’s growing competition for those grants as pandemic-related community support funding declines.
"So we’re coming forward now to ask Angus trusts and businesses planning to continue financial support for community initiatives next year to consider sponsoring one of these projects as a way of demonstrating the strength of their commitment to being an active and positive part of their local community.
“In return, their support for health and well-being promotion in their local community is recognised on our website, social media and public relations and sponsors are invited to our projects and special events. When they come along, they meet the people who they’re helping.”
One of those people is 21-year-old Forfarian Blair Butchart, who was appointed to the post of the trust’s Community Project Worker earlier this year.
He first became involved with it when, in 2017, it took over from Strathmore RFC the running of the Rugby Academy teaching rugby and life skills to senior school pupils.
Already helping to run it on a voluntary basis, he soon became an official Community Project Assistant and when the trust started its Scottish Charity Award-winning autism-friendly rugby for primary pupils project in 2019 he was one of its first coaches.
Blair said that coaching it and the trust’s Unified Rugby sessions has been the most enjoyable part of his work.
He continued: “Watching the participants develop as people - becoming more comfortable in situations that previously wouldn’t have been be feasible for them – is very rewarding.
“We’ve had children who come to their first ASD rugby sessions non-verbal develop to being able to talk with other kids without the use of storyboards or the help of coaches. Some have transitioned from ASD classes at school to mainstream ones.”
He also said that coaching for the trust has helped him develop both personally and professionally
Blair added: “It has taught me how to be more patient, understanding and adaptable as well as how to communicate with a broader range of people and plan engaging coaching sessions.”
He now plans to make playing and coaching rugby in the Central Belt his profession thanks to the many courses the trust has put him through as well as the years of coaching and admin experience he’s gained working with it.
The trust works in partnership with Strathmore RFC, Brechin RFC, Scottish Rugby and Scotland Rugby League. Its other projects include adult Unified Rugby, its Brechin High School Project and its paid Strathie Pups sessions for pre-schoolers.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a project can get in touch with the trust by contacting Katie Gillanders on firstname.lastname@example.org. To help in other ways or find out how to get involved, visit the trust’s website at www.strathmoretrust.co.uk.