Dallaglio RugbyWorks is an intensive, long-term skills development programme based on rugby, through which we aim to get teenagers outside of mainstream education into sustained education, employment or training.

Mason has been involved in Dallaglio Foundation RugbyWorks since the very first session at Pathways Short Stay in Bexley and through RugbyWorks has gained confidence, he now sees a positive future for himself.

When we first met Mason he was polite to coaches and teachers but would swear endlessly and verbally threaten the other students. He openly admitted to using cannabis and was clearly under the influence during the first few sessions. Mason, like a lot of the young people we work with seemed to have a self-esteen issue and wouldn't acknowledge anything he did well or any of his achievements. This is where Will and Matt work with the young people to help them realise that they do have talents to be proud of and that it's good to talk about them.

When the first round of questionnaires were carried out, most of the young people would write "nothing" or "school" under the 'What are you not so good at' section. Mason wrote "confidence". This was a startlingly open admission from someone we'd only been working with for six weeks but we could see the evidence of this in our previous sessions.

Mason would always let others do things first and did not want to try new things; he wouldn't want to answer questions in front of the group even if he knew the answer. We created a plan for improving his self-esteem and to encourage him to believe in himself more. This began as simply as praising everything positive that Mason did and encouraging him whenever he made a mistake.

Part of Mason's OCD means he wants everything to be perfect so we set him tasks that would need precision for example marking out the pitch to specific measurements. Mason began to grow in confidence and attended the first RugbyWorks tournament in November helping his team to finish third.

We started to notice a real change in Mason from the New Year, he began to volunteer himself first for new games, notably the blindfold minefield game where you can make yourself look silly. This would never have happened in September. Throughout the second term Mason kept putting himself forward for experiences and during half term went on a taster day with media agency RAPP UK.

Mason had always said he was only interested in building work but the beauty of the experiences RugbyWorks offer is they can open young people’s eyes to new possibilities and help young people realise they may have a talent in something they never knew existed. This was the case with Mason at RAPP UK. He did well during the day and when RAPP offered everyone the opportunity for work experience Mason jumped at the chance.

Mason spent a week with Rapp UK and was given a real brief to work on by the creative team. By the end of the week two of his ideas were being put to a new client, as RAPP loved them so much. On the Friday Mason didn't look like the scruffy boy we met at the first RugbyWorks sessions, he was dressed smartly and spoke without swearing. In fact he made a note of saying that he hadn't sworn the whole time he was on work experience and only smoked four times!

Mason has won the admiration of everyone he's met by just being himself and this has improved his self-esteem endlessly. Mason is a prime example of how you can turn your life around if you expose yourself to new experiences. He currently is arranging another full week’s work experience with RAPP and has applied for an apprenticeship with Halfords through another RugbyWorks experience he went on.

Mason completed his time on the RugbyWorks programme by being nominated and winning The Lawrence Dallaglio Special Achievement Award. This is a prestigious award that is given to the young person who has had the most significant “Journey” on the programme so far. Like Lawrence they have worked hard, shown they can overcome adversity and not let their environment or influences stop them achieving, all of which we can proudly say apply to Mason.


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