Q1. What was it that got you involved in RugbySafe and supporting player welfare?

I took over the role of safeguarding officer for Durham County and realised there was nothing set up for grassroots players who were suffering from anxiety and other issues associated with mental wellbeing.

Unfortunately, we had lost three under 25 players in the matter of months to suicide. As result I put forward to our councillors my idea of better support for grassroots players and the county approved.

Q2. Tell us about your CB/Club etc. and what you are doing to improve player welfare?

We launched a poster campaign at The Safeguarding and RugbySafe conference and introduced mental first aid awareness course for all clubs in County Durham. This was actively supported by the county and Acorn Wellbeing, our player wellbeing counsellors.

Q3. What’s the most rewarding thing about your role?

The most rewarding thing is making a difference and knowing that we have saved players lives. We have saved three players from doing harm to themselves and they are now working with their own clubs, promoting the fact that “It’s good to talk.”

Q4. Tell us a bit about the photo or video that reflects the work you are doing to promote RugbySafe best practice?

The images below, from left to right our of Juliet Gray and Sarah Bisp, our amazing counsellors, an example of a the poster we use to promote the work of Acorn and finally Tom Hirst, one our players who was brave enough to come forward and receive counselling from Acorn.

Q5. Do you have any tips for other CB/Club etc. trying to improve player welfare standards?

Our top tips are to:

  1. Talk to players and ask them are they ok?
  2. Make sure they know somebody cares about them.
  3. Promote the idea that Rugby is a family and that families look after each other.