Charities and governing bodies unite for Mercers Project

A group of sports charities and national governing bodies have joined forces on a groundbreaking new collaborative project which will aim to ensure that 200 young people, who are currently at risk of falling out of the education system, will instead develop positive and productive futures.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and England Boxing have teamed up with Dallaglio RugbyWorks, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and SLQ Sports Leaders for the three-year project which has been made possible thanks to funding of just over £280,000 from The Mercers’ Charitable Foundation.

Using sport as a hook to engage the teenagers in positive activity, the project will provide life-skills and mentoring support across several schools in the capital, with the aim of enabling them to transition into further education, employment or training after mandatory education.

The partnership is particularly timely with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds set to face even greater challenges due to the economic downturn post Covid-19.


Each of the partners will bring different aspects to the project. SLQ Sports Leaders offer the opportunity to achieve a Level 1 qualification in Sports Leadership, while the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust will provide access to its mentoring expertise, which includes personal, social and emotional development programmes for young people facing disadvantage. The RFU and England Boxing will provide assistance with delivery to the Dallaglio RugbyWorks team as well as creating community engagement opportunities for participants.

Sarah Mortiboys, Chief Operating Officer for Dallaglio RugbyWorks, said: “As we move into uncertain times for everyone, it is essential that we continue to support future generations, especially those at most risk, and enable them to be the next leaders of sport and society. That is why I am thrilled that so many organisations have teamed up with RugbyWorks to deliver this unique and exciting project.

“I would sincerely like to thank The Mercers’ Charitable Foundation, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, SLQ Sports Leaders, the RFU and England Boxing for coming together to join us in this project which will help to change the lives of young people in London for the better.”

The collaboration features several key supporters of the Sport for Development Coalition, a growing movement of over 100 charities, governing bodies and networks who all believe in the power of sport to generate positive social outcomes.


Richard Norman, CEO of SLQ Sports Leaders and a Board member of the Coalition, praised the organisations for coming together to focus on shared outcomes.

“We love working collaboratively to achieve social change and we are delighted to be part of this Dallaglio RugbyWorks project,” he said.

“Working with such prestigious organisations gives the project a unique opportunity to positively impact young people across London.”

Steve Grainger, Rugby Development Director at the Rugby Football Union, said the governing body was “really pleased” to be able to “provide support to vulnerable teenagers at this very challenging time”, and Ron Tulley, England Boxing’s Head of Community Development, said: “the boxing clubs involved will provide a safe and secure environment where young people can grow in confidence and as young people.”