One of south west London’s leading women’s rugby sides are leading the #Rugby4NHS campaign to support NHS staff.
Rosslyn Park Slingbacks launched the #Rugby4NHS campaign two weeks ago to encourage rugby clubs to collect donations to give to hospitals across Britain.
The scheme was set up by Slingbacks captain Samantha Emery, who was originally working on her own collection of donations before deciding to get her teammates and the wider rugby community involved.
She said: “I noticed quite a lot of call-outs for support for NHS staff to provide snacks and toiletries and I was pulling together a care package for Queen Elizabeth Blackheath.
“I stopped and thought that actually there was a bigger opportunity, given the sport that I play, to engage the whole of the rugby family across the UK and make a far bigger impact.
“Firstly you can engage with your local hospital in terms of logistics, about what they need and how best to safely get it to them.
“Secondly you pull together your care package of whatever is needed and then thirdly you go online and post pictures of what you’ve donated with the hashtag #Rugby4NHS.”
The campaign only launched on the 12th January but has already spread throughout the country, in part due to the high-profile support that the Slingbacks have received.
Emery said: “Within a matter of days we were getting shoutouts from international players like Marlie Packer, Owen Farrell, Shane Williams and Vicky Fleetwood.
“We also got called out on Talksport last weekend and we had an article on the England Rugby Page last week. This support takes things way beyond the reach that you could have achieved yourself.
“We’ve started to see more and more clubs getting involved. We’ve had this going nationally. Every day we’ve seen people coming together, realising that this is really easy and that they can make a tangible difference to a group of individuals who are giving their all to us.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get a spokesperson working with us to really push the campaign to the next level. There’s been massive traction already but when you think about how far this could go at a time that’s quite critical for the NHS, we’re keen to push it as far as we can.”
With the pressure on the NHS unlikely to ease quickly the campaign will continue for as long as necessary, with Emery also stressing the importance of bringing the Rugby community together at a time where many are unable to play.
She said: “We’re doing what we can as a club to get care packages to hospitals local to us. As long as people are taking it forward, we will be encouraging it along. Anything done at the moment is hugely appreciated by the staff that are receiving it.
“It is very difficult for anyone, even at the elite level, to play rugby right now and that will no doubt continue to be the case for quite a while longer.
“The community side of the game has been hit and that’s quite a huge part of the game at grassroots level. Through the campaign, people can still feel connected and engaged with the sport.”
Featured image credit: Rosslyn Park Slingbacks