Leeds Rhinos Foundation and Aspire Community Benefit Society (CBS) have announced an exciting new partnership which will see people with learning disabilities receive sports coaching delivery from Leeds Rhinos’ official charity from September 2017.

Tenfold members, Aspire CBS, are a social enterprise, working with over 1,000 people with learning disabilities across the city supporting them to have better lives through the provision of high-quality, person-centred, care and support services.

The new partnership starting this September will see a full time member of staff from Leeds Rhinos Foundation work with Aspire customers offering sport and physical activity sessions as well as healthy lifestyle coaching. As part of the launch of the partnership at Kirkstall Leisure Centre, Leeds Rhinos star Jimmy Keinhorst joined customers from Aspire for a taster physical activity session led by Leeds Rhinos Foundation Disability Coordinator Chris Godfrey.

Speaking at the event Keinhorst said:

“It’s been really good to meet everyone who is involved with it and see how many people it is enhancing the lives of. I think there is a few locations around Leeds and they have all come down here today to join in with the activity session, which I’ve been joining in with. You can really see how this partnership is going to be really positive for all involved.” “I think it’s fantastic that the Foundation have got involved with Aspire, I gives more people of all abilities the chance to get involved in sport and physical activity, so it’s great to see that happening.”

In the build up to the launch, Leeds Rhinos Foundation provided a six-week pilot with Aspire to give both organisations a chance to check out whether there was an appetite for this type of venture and, if there was, to create a programme of activities for the longer term.

Chris Godfrey commented:

“Prior to today we have worked with customers from Aspire for about six weeks. This is a bit of a celebration today with Jimmy down here and the Super League trophy to show some of the customers, who have all got a disability of some sort, a little bit about what we can offer and also it’s a reward for helping with the pilot and getting this partnership off the ground. “From September, we will be working with Aspire for 12 months from their three main hubs. We’ll be doing a day a week in each hub on sport and physical activity plus a further day offering healthy lifestyles and healthy living delivery with the customers, so they will have a full-time member of staff working with them which is really a great move for both organisations.”

Aspire’s day services provide a range of opportunities for people with learning disabilities to engage in healthy, safe and fulfilling daytime activities. Andy Rawnsley, Chief Executive at Aspire CBS said:

“It’s going to be fantastic for us, after the pilot loads of people gave us really positive feedback, so it was really good that people were getting in physical activity, also getting engaged with Leeds Rhinos which always goes down well with the people we support here and across the city. “So now we are going to be entering into a year’s agreement with Leeds Rhinos Foundation and that will enable the Rhinos to come in and do some work across the city with a development worker four days a week to deliver some work around rugby and general health and wellbeing.”

Chris Godfrey added:

“There is a massive appetite for Rugby generally, a lot of the customers are big Rhinos fans and even season ticket holders. “The one thing the majority of the disability community don’t have is opportunity and I think what we are hoping to do is provide that opportunity to give them a chance to participate and play and ultimately expand on what they have got already, so it’s a really good opportunity for them to engage in a more practical sense with what we offer at the Foundation.”