Teamwork makes the dream work for Widnes Vikings and care charity

Widnes Vikings captain Jack Owens with volunteer Ian Toole, both wearing outfits marking the club’s five years of work with Community Integrated Care.

Widnes Vikings will wear a special edition shirt commemorating the club’s work with a major city-based charity when the players take to the pitch to take on Barrow Raiders this month,

The club created the kit to mark five years of working with Community Integrated Care and teaming up to change lives for the better,

Through this relationship, Community Integrated Care – one of the nation’s largest social care providers – has facilitated multi-sport clubs, dementia programs, volunteer opportunities, Down syndrome awareness campaigns, activities and created a Vikings-partnered Learning Disability Super League (LDSL) team.

Players have helped deliver PPE equipment to support workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Vikings have donated items for fundraisers and provided volunteer opportunities.

One such volunteer, Ian Toole, has become a popular member of the Vikings’ off-field staff, recently met club captain and Widnes-born Jack Owens to show at the back the impact partnership can have on everyone involved.

Owens said: “Community Integrated Care have been great partners for Widnes Vikings, and we have lots of volunteers helping out, including Ian who works in the club shop.

“He is here on game days to help out and sell half-time tickets.

“He really enjoys being around the place, and everyone in the offices loves him.

“He brightens our day.

“At Widnes Vikings, we strive to create opportunities for people to engage with the club, and in turn, they help us too.

“Ian is probably the best example of that.

“You can’t help but smile when you’re with Ian, he’s so happy all the time.

“The work he does is a real benefit for us – he helps the club go forward and improve.”

Vikings halfback Danny Craven with volunteer Ian Toole in the special tape.

Ian, 45, has also become a member of the Vikings Community Integrated Care LDSL team.

He said: “I made a lot of friends, and some from other teams as well.

“I feel good when I put on the Widnes shirt.

“It makes me happy and proud.”

For Owens, it’s further proof of the relationship’s value to both organizations as they prepare to celebrate their teamwork with the Summer Bash kit.

Owens said: “The LDSL team trains ahead of us on a Wednesday, and you see what it means for the players to be part of Widnes Vikings.

“When you see them walking around the stadium on match days and all their families are cheering, you understand exactly what it means to them to be committed to a professional sports club.

“The kit is very bright and will look great on the day in Community Integrated Care colors.

“The two organizations have worked together for years and this is another great opportunity to partner.

“Other clubs will be able to see the work we do together and this is a great opportunity to celebrate and show it.

“It’s a bond that really benefits people’s lives, and it also benefits the Widnes Vikings – it’s a real partnership.

“I hope the friendship between Widnes Vikings and Community Integrated Care continues for years to come.”

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John Hughes, director of partnerships and communities at the charity, said: “Although Community Integrated Care is a national charity, we were founded in Widnes and our roots are in that community.

“For our local club to pay tribute to our work and celebrate the people we support, by wearing our colors in one of their biggest games of the season, is a huge honour.

“As a social charity, we always seek to connect with organizations that believe passionately in inclusion, and that is absolutely the case with Widnes Vikings.

“Ian is just one of hundreds of people whose lives have been improved thanks to the link between the club and our charity.

“We have accomplished so much in our first five years and are excited to continue breaking down barriers together in the years to come.”

Read more news from Widnes, Cheshire, here.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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