OUR MISSION:
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.

We take a look into the importance of unlocking the potential of a forgotten generation. 

If ex-England rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio walked into your office for an interview, you’d jump at the chance of him joining your team. He has a strong leadership mentality, has proven he can work as a team and is confident. These are all skills and behaviours that a business is looking for from potential hires, and aside from past achievements, these can be a very influential deciding factor for an employer.

These are skills and behaviours that we start to develop throughout childhood and early adulthood, mostly influenced by those around us and our experiences. However, their importance can be easily taken for granted if an individual is given the opportunity to develop them at a young age. So, what does that mean for those not in a position to develop those key skills?

It means that these youths become the forgotten generation. They are the youths that find themselves relegated to Alternative Provision (AP) or Pupil Referral Units (PRUs); who find themselves excluded from school for a multitude of reasons, giving them the impression that they are not valued as an individual, and that their chance at a successful future is nigh on impossible.

As Will Smith, previously a Coach and now Regional Operations Manager with Dallaglio RugbyWorks shared, the universal truth with these teenagers is that they’ve all experienced some kind of trauma in their life, which has led them to develop what can often be seen as antisocial behaviours. Yet often, it’s not a case that they’re misbehaving because they’re naughty, it’s a reaction to them not getting what they need to stimulate them in the right way.

So, how do we address this and draw out the skills that these young people may not realise they have? We believe there are numerous solutions, one of which we deliver; an intensive, long-term skills development programme. We place our coaches in Alternative Provisions where we work hand in hand with local teaching staff, using the values of rugby to help develop a wide range of essential skills for these permanently excluded teenagers. We provide structure and support, and a pathway to the future. This helps youths who have been failed by mainstream society unlock the skills they need, in turn opening the doors to educational and employment opportunities that would have previously been out of their grasp, something recently proven by Education and Employers.

The coaches position themselves as a mixture of teacher and friend, to give these teenagers a mentor or role model they have previously lacked and can build trust with and learn from. They spend time with them to challenge their behaviour and preconceptions and break down the barriers they have erected. Many of these teenagers have developed a negative self-perception as a result of being excluded and it’s important to give them the control to believe in their self-worth and turn the negative on its head. It’s also important to show them the plethora of opportunities available to them, and this is done through career taster days, with partners such as BNP Paribas, Bidfood and Caterpillar.

Career taster days are mutually beneficial for both a student and a business. For a student, it gives them a taster of what a range of companies in different sectors do, the different job roles within a business and where their skills and interests could be optimised. For companies, it offers them access to potential employees that can be natural problem solvers, can think on their feet, have emotional intelligence. It also gives the internal team involved the opportunity to expand their suite of skills, as learning how to communicate with these teenagers requires a different approach to one they’d be familiar with in their day to day life. Ultimately, as Stephen Hunt, CEO of BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK described it: “It doesn’t take a lot of financial or time investment, but the impact it could have could be transformative.”

One such individual who has proven this approach works is José. José was born and raised in Portugal and moved to England in 2013, at the time, unable to speak any English. Whilst here, he was sent to an AP where he first got involved with Dallaglio RugbyWorks. During the three years spent on the course, José worked with the coaches to develop his self-confidence and communication skills and benefitted from the 1:1 support the coaches offered.

Having completed the programme and subsequently college, José saw an opportunity to get involved with Dallaglio RugbyWorks, however, this time around, on the other side as a coach. José went through the standard interview process, proving that he was fully focused and had put his all into it. At only 20, José was offered the role and is now one of the youngest coaches at Dallaglio RugbyWorks; a role he is keen to own and develop, whilst sharing his first-hand experience to help change young people’s lives.

Like José and many of the other students involved in Dallaglio RugbyWorks, Lawrence suffered a tragedy as a teen and as a result, felt lost and misunderstood. He made some poor life choices that led to him getting in trouble. The likelihood is, the person he was on track to become back then wouldn’t have even applied for a job, let alone been invited in for an interview. He would have been written off because he hadn’t had the chance, or had time invested in him, to draw out the skills and behaviours we saw in him when he played for his teams and country, and that we see in him today. But now we know who he has become, aren’t the other youths in his position worth the investment?

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Dallaglio RugbyWorks is a registered charity: 1130353 (England & Wales) SC046140 (Scotland) / Company Registration No: 6803046
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