Leinster Rugby have this afternoon announced two new charity partners with Aware and DEBRA Ireland confirmed at a special gathering in Leinster Rugby head offices in UCD.
It was also announced that Leinster would be extending the partnership to two seasons for the first time. As a result the partnership will run until the end of the 2017/18 season.
To celebrate the partnership it was also announced that Joe Walsh Tours, official travel partner of Leinster Rugby, would be offering both charities 14 seats on the first Guinness PRO12 away trip of the year to Glasgow, giving the lucky 28 passengers a unique insight into the Leinster Rugby environment as they travel to and from the game with the team.
Speaking at Leinster HQ, Gerry O’Brien Head of Fundraising and Business Development with Aware said “Aware is absolutely delighted to partner with Leinster Rugby for the next two seasons. The partnership gives us the opportunity to tell everyone in the Leinster Rugby family and beyond about the vital role that mental health and wellbeing has for all aspects of our lives, including our ability to partake in and enjoy sports such as rugby.
“Aware works hard to connect with communities across the country and throughout the 12 counties of Leinster, and we hope that the new partnership will encourage people to be more mindful of their mental wellbeing and also encourage anyone who might be going through a tough time, to reach out for the help that is available. We can’t wait to get started!”
Also in attendance on behalf of DEBRA Ireland was Judith Gilsenan, Head of Fundraising and Marketing who said “DEBRA Ireland is delighted to be selected as one of Leinster Rugby’s official charity partners and are really looking forward to working with both the Leinster Team and Clubs over the next two seasons.
“We have no doubt that this partnership will do so much for our families living with the devastating skin disease EB (epidermolysis bullosa). The awareness that this partnership will generate will ensure that those living with EB will be given a powerful voice because of the Blue Army!
“We are so grateful to Leinster Rugby for this opportunity and wish all the players the very best of luck and thank them for their support.”
Aware is the national organisation working since 1985 to provide support, education and information around depression and bipolar disorder. The organisation also provides positive mental health education programmes, which each year reach 30,000 students aged 15-18; 3,000 employees in workplaces nationwide, and 2,500 adults who are dealing with the impact of stress, anxiety or challenging life situations.
Depression is estimated to affect more than 450,000 people in Ireland at any one time, while 40,000 people experience bipolar disorder. Aware also offers support to people who care about someone who is managing one of these conditions.
DEBRA Ireland was established to provide support services to patients and families living with the debilitating skin condition EB (epidermolysis bullosa). DEBRA also drives research into treatments and cures for those living with the condition.
Established in 1988 by the patients and families of those living with EB, DEBRA provides hope and support to those living with EB. There are currently 300 people living in Ireland with the condition. DEBRA Ireland provides support not only to them but to their families who regularly act as carers.
At the announcement, special guests from Aware and DEBRA Ireland met Leinster Rugby players and coaches and they also got a unique behind the scenes tour of the Leinster Rugby facilities.
Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen welcomed both charities to Leinster Rugby and looked forward to the partnership ahead.
“I would like to congratulate both Aware and DEBRA Ireland on their selection and wish them well over the coming two seasons. I think it’s great that they get to kick off the relationship with us as we travel over to Glasgow in a few weeks in the Guinness PRO12 and I would like to thank Joe Walsh Tours for the kind offer.
“This is very much a collaborative process with our playing group having input in to the selection process so we feel very much part of the partnership and I hope that it can help both Aware and DEBRA achieve greater awareness for those in Ireland suffering with mental health issues and of course with EB.”
In addition to having Aware and DEBRA Ireland on board for the season ahead, Leinster Rugby outlined further plans to engage with other charities.
Leinster Rugby media manager and chair of the CSR Committee, Marcus Ó Buachalla, said, “We were again overwhelmed with the amount of applications with over 70 charities putting their names forward. As a result we have again decided to continue with our online application system whereby charities that are not official partners of Leinster Rugby can still apply for once off contributions.
“With that framework in place we would hope to reach out to other charities on a monthly basis. Last season we reached out to 42 charities outside of our two partners, Cardiac Risk in the Young and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, and we look forward to doing the same this season.”
Further information on the charity partners, in addition to how your charity can apply for support from Leinster Rugby can be found at www.leinsterrugby.ie/charitypartners