6 Nov 2021
Ambassador Oliver Thomason and Inclusive Volunteer Programme win at National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards
Rugby League World Cup 2021 and Community Integrated Care, along with Inclusion Ambassador Oliver Thomason recognised at national awards
Rugby League World Cup 2021 and Community Integrated Care have seen its efforts to promote inclusion awarded with two top honours at this year’s National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards.
The tournament's Official Social Care Partner scooped the Sporting Chance accolade for its ground-breaking partnership with RLWC2021, having created the first ever volunteering and personal-development programme as part of a major event, for people who have learning disabilities and autism. Engaging more than 300 people, this is creating unprecedented opportunities for individuals who face significant barriers - changing lives at scale.
From enabling a 10-year-old aspiring rapper who has autism to create a World Cup song with a hitmaker music producer, to forming a media-training club that hosted the Women’s Challenge Cup Final press conference, the partnership has already had an unparalleled impact.
RLWC2021's Inclusion Ambassador, Oliver Thomason - who has played crucial role in the success of the inclusive volunteering programme - also won the prestigious ‘Newcomer Award’. This honour recognises his success in enabling people to find and fulfil their potential through our sporting programmes
Starting paid employment in social care as a Sports Inclusion Assistant in January 2021, Oliver has already inspired thousands of people to get more active through his mentoring and engagement, and shared his lived-experience of having a learning disability to lead co-production with the people supported by the charity.
His successes have included championing the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League – a ground-breaking adapted version of Rugby League, which gives more than 200 people who have learning disabilities and autism the chance to play for the sport’s biggest teams at major Super League events.
As the Official Inclusion Ambassador for RLWC2021, Oliver has also helped to showcase disability inclusion on a global scale.
Winning this award is just another example of how Oliver is breaking barriers and showcasing the incredible things that people with learning disabilities can achieve when inclusivity is taken into account.
Speaking about his achievement, Oliver said:
“I am over the moon to have won the Newcomer Award at this year’s National Learning Disability and Autism Awards! I was up against some amazing people. It means so much that my hard work, helping inspire others to get involved in sports and to access new opportunities, was recognised at a national awards ceremony.
I hope that this inspires others and shows people who have learning disabilities that anything is possible, and you really can achieve your dreams!”
John Hughes, Director of Partnerships & Communities at Community Integrated Care, said:
“We are incredibly proud of Oliver and everything that he has achieved already at our charity. For him to be recognised as being the best new starter in the UK social care sector, as someone who also has a learning disability, sends a powerful message about the value of lived experience and the need for care providers to embrace the talents of people who access support.
"He has played a crucial role in helping us break down barriers, further social inclusion, and inspire to get involved with life-changing opportunities. Oliver truly deserves this award and to be recognised at a national level. We can’t wait to see all of the exciting things he will do next.
"We are also proud that our partnership with Rugby League World Cup 2021 and Sport England, was recognised with the Sporting Chance Award. I would like to thank the colleagues that deliver this programme for their tireless work and passion. This also recognises the success of our amazing volunteers, and the family members and colleagues who support them, who have been so committed to making the most of this very special programme.”