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Volunteering transformed this woman's life

Words by Blyth Brentnall

In lockdown Jenny Robinson rarely socialised and spent much of her time alone at home. But then she discovered the community-integrated support project, the Learning Disability Super League (LDSL), and everything changed.

Her partner, Declan Jenkinson, was playing rugby for LDSL’s Leeds Rhinos team, in matches specially adapted to people with autism. Seeing how much he loved it, Jenny wanted to get more involved in the sport too.

“I wanted to support Declan at games, as I know how much it meant to him,” she explained.

So she decided to start volunteering for the charity, supporting the matches and spreading the word about their work. 

What are the benefits of volunteerism to society?

She signed up for all kinds of volunteering roles: producing art, designing shirts and interviewing players. 

Quickly, the charity recognised her skills and efforts. She contributed to the official England Rugby League World Cup warm up shirt design and displayed her art at a Leeds Rhinos fixture exhibition.

She went on to gain a huge confidence boost, hosting Community Integrated Care’s Learning Disability Super League World Cup draw at Headingley Stadium, as part of the Inclusive Volunteering programme run in partnership with Sport England. 

She even stepped into the national limelight, speaking about her experiences on the hugely popular Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4.

The benefits of volunteering have been enormous for Jenny. “It has changed my life,” she said. “Working with Community Integrated Care has given me so many things to look forward to and be excited about. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Community Integrated Care. This charity offers support for disabled people to build their skills and confidence. Find out more and support them here

MSI Reproductive Choices. The national charity supporting disabled people through the cost of living crisis. Support them here.

Disability Rights UK. A charity led by disabled people campaigning for their rights. Find out more

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs