Rugby……remember it? It feels strange not to have set foot in The Stoop for several weeks now and I am sure I’m not alone in being desperate to be back ‘home’ and not stuck at home.
We are all facing a global challenge as well as our own personal struggles, this is not ‘new’ news for any of us.
The issue we face at The Harlequins Foundation is that our beneficiaries are experiencing mental health problems, financial hardship, loneliness and the loss of loved ones as a direct result of the situation we find ourselves in. One young person we work with lost his father last week. He is vulnerable and already marginalised from society, having dropped out of mainstream school before engaging on our education programme, Hitz.
We have all known, or at least the sport acolytes amongst us have, that sport holds a special place in society. It is quite clear that the vacuum has created a huge hole in our lives. For some this is not being able to watch or play live sport. For others it is the lack of opportunities to connect socially with friends or volunteer at the weekends for their children’s sport teams – will you ever complain about being the parent taxi firm again?!
It is clear to me that sport is one of, if not the key element that can help to address several big societal issues. This is where we hope to come to the fore, using sport as a vehicle to have a positive social impact on individuals and communities.
Our immediate priority is to support the front-line workers that are keeping us safe and providing vital services in any way we can. You will hopefully have noticed our NHS fundraising appeal which can be found here.
We will also continue with a virtual Mighty Draw at half-time on the dates of our reamining regular season home games. All proceeds will go to the local NHS Trust and to support our work moving forward. We have already exceeded our original modest target and anyone that wants some fun and to play can enter here.
We have all taken Captain Tom Moore to our hearts as a symbol for how much we appreciate what is important to us. He reduced me to tears of joy this morning, completing his 100 laps and raising over £12 million. He has also added some pressure as I can’t compete with that level of super-hero fundraising.
We will be making calls to our supporters to check in over the next few weeks, so if you see a withheld number you no longer have to worry about it being PPI, it may however mean you get stuck talking to me for 10 minutes.
As we move out of lockdown in the coming months, we recognise that more than ever we will need to help people dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. We will continue to offer our mental resilience programme METTLE to schools and address the issue of self-harm and suicide in young men through the Ahead of the Game programme, delivered in partnership with Movember.
In the next few months, we are launching our skills builder framework that embeds essential skills through sport and helps to support a more successful transition into employment.
And once it is safe to do so we will continue to work with our older residents providing an opportunity to regularly socialise and participate in activities at The Stoop, through the hugely successful Imagination Café.
We are adapting and re-imagining how we deliver our programmes both in the short and the long term, through a greater digital offer and focusing our work locally. You can find out more about our current approach here.
It is during these times that the important things come sharply into focus. In the first instance this is our family and friends, but it has been so heart-warming to witness the collective spirit of the nation. I hope that you are all keeping well and if you are experiencing personal challenges know you are always a part of the Harlequins family, so reach out and catch up with fellow supporters and keep an eye on our websites and social media channels for mindfulness sessions, fitness tips and live streaming of our greatest games (Spoiler alert – I reckon we win them).
I hope that you take a pride in your Club and The Foundation and remember in the words of Captain Moore “Tomorrow will be a good day”.