The Rugby Football League (RFL) has recently launched the ‘Listening Club’ initiative to advance the dialogue between clubs and young members.
How the initiative works
This venture aims to encourage all rugby clubs to hold regular meetings with children and young people to find out what they enjoy about their engagement and what could be improved.
The RFL wants all youth and junior clubs to actively engage with their players to promote the idea that children who feel safe within their club will be more likely to report any worries and concerns they may have.
The initiative was launched in January 2017 at the 10th RFL Annual Safeguarding Conference. The presentation outlined:
- the reasoning and benefits behind listening to children and young people
- what is hoped will be achieved
- the benefits to both the child and the club
There was an active discussion on what clubs should do with the findings from the groups, and why listening to children and responding to their concerns, worries and ideas are very important.
Clubs were supported with example open questions for the first few meetings. It's hoped that in future, children and young people will eventually lead the agenda and determine the questions themselves.
There was also a discussion about the potential negative impact on the young person of a lack of action in response to their feedback. Clubs need to act on, feedback and manage unrealistic or unattainable requests in a timely manner. It's important that young people are informed of the reasons why certain requests can’t be achieved.
The RFL is recommending that Club Welfare Officers (CWOs) lead these groups. It offered guidance on how clubs can promote that CWOs are there to support, build relationships and assure young people that individual responses will not be disclosed to others outside the group meeting.
Additional support for any CWO who does not feel confident in this area will be available from the Safeguarding Manager, including some pro-forma questions to get CWOs started.
Becoming a Listening Club
To be recognised as a ‘Listening Club’, clubs will need to have demonstrated 2 or more fully documented meetings with children within the membership year.
This recognition will be issued on an annual basis to clubs that continue to fully engage in listening to children. They'll also be presented with a framed certificate.
Commenting on the initiative, Colette Eden, RFL Safeguarding Manager, said:
“The RFL worked from the assumption that listening to children and young people at club level will improve the environment for those children. Clubs that actively engage in formally listening to young players can respond to the needs of individuals and teams.
“Each club environment is unique in physical makeup, club personnel, size, and geographic location and the uniqueness of each club may well be reflected in the responses of children and young people.”