The Foundation team have known Jess since she was thirteen years old, when the team first started delivering multi-sports coaching within her school at Threeways Special School.  We also built a relationship with Jess over years of delivery at Peasedown Youth Club when the team delivered outreach programmes such as Door Step Club. 

Jess is a character, she’s the team player who will tell you straight and act all hard, but actually has a huge vulnerability. 

Initially she is always apprehensive and confidence has been an issue, but she always ends up completing and excelling at the challenge. 

She is a young lady with cerebral palsy, ASD and type one diabetes but she certainly doesn’t allow this to stop her and she will have a go at anything, especially sports and has engaged in all touch and contact rugby sessions on her own, with her peers supporting her throughout the games.

Since completing her college course with Project Search and Bath College in July 2018 she has been looking for work. She’s also recently moved into supported housing and is living independently in the city centre. This has been a great move to develop her independent skills, but she’s also found it isolating, especially after finishing college and looking for work.  

In March 2019 she joined the newly-formed Bath Rugby Ladies Mixed Ability Team, one of the first female Mixed Ability teams in the world. This is delivered as part of Project Rugby and is making rugby accessible for females within the Bath area with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Project Rugby is a Premiership Rugby initiative, delivered in partnership with Gallagher, which challenges the traditional perceptions of rugby and increases participation in the game by targeting under-represented groups.

Jess joined with limited experience of rugby and has become a larger than life character of the team, making everybody laugh and feel welcome around her.

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Her rugby skills have improved dramatically, going from rarely running or catching the ball to now being able to hit ruck shields and participate in a full mixed ability game.

The social side of being a part of a team has had a hugely positive impact on Jess, helping battle the isolation she had been feeling earlier in the year.

She has a new group of friends within rugby and recently enjoyed her end of season awards dinner unassisted with her fellow teammates. When she first began to attend sessions she had a PA standing beside her on the field.

On the pitch, initially Jess was very nervous and would often have to ‘pop to the toilet’ on multiple occasions during a session.

As the weeks have gone on and her confidence has improved, she no longer takes breaks during the session, takes part fully with her peers and the sessions are not being adapted for her.

As well as this, she attends fixtures on her own and training sessions with limited support from her PA. She now tells them to wait in the clubhouse for her because she doesn’t require the support she used to.

Since joining the rugby team, Jess has improved in confidence and has since found work as well as beginning to enjoy her move into new accommodation. This has been shown by confidence to try new things and approach new people. From linking up with new players and networks, this has led to a core group of friends to socialise with outside of rugby.

As well as this, Jess has begun a work placement at a cafe in the city centre through her links with the rugby club.

In June 2019 Jess’ achievements were recognised when she was a finalist in the Premiership Parliamentary Awards.

In 2020 Jess embarked on her next step with Bath Rugby Foundation, joining the Bath Rugby HITZ employability programme.

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