Vikings Launch ‘First Tackle’ project

Widnes Vikings have launched ‘First Tackle’, a project made up of six individual schemes that have been developed based on pilots and national examples of best practice.

The schemes are designed to educate people in the community about their health whilst ensuring they have fun in the process with the Vikings.

Richard Munson, Community Integrated Director said: ‘The ‘First Tackle’ project has been developed to provide important health and physical activity opportunities for local people. Our partnership with Halton Clinical Commissioning Group continues to grow and we are confident that the new schemes we are launching will provide a multitude of benefits for the local community. One clear focus in line with the principles of the ‘Patient Connect’ scheme is how the Vikings, and sport in general, can be used to prevent isolation and depression.

The six schemes are:

‘Raise Your Game’: Sport and physical activity opportunities for teenagers and young adults in community venues across Halton.

‘Player’: Weekly touch rugby league session for adults with mental health issues based from the Select Security Stadium.

‘Vikings Families’: Weekly multi sport opportunities for kids to attend with their parents. Sessions will be based at the Parklands Sports Club on Saturday mornings.

‘Guys and Goals’: Calling men aged 40+, ‘Guys and Goals’ will offer weekly physical activity and health awareness sessions at the Select Security Stadium.

‘Onside’: A physical activity and sport programme for cancer survivors. Sessions will include touch and walking rugby, group walks and gym sessions at the Select Security Stadium.

‘Golden Generation’: Targeting our older fans, ‘Golden Generation’ will offer a weekly opportunity to come together and share individual golden memories about the Vikings.


Rob Foster, Halton CCG Programme Lead said: “Earlier this year, NHS Halton CCG successfully bid for £1.6m from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund (PMCF) programme which supports the development of General Practice services. The Patient Connect scheme, which will set up a series of educational and supportive services for local people experiencing isolation, is part of this programme.

Jacky Slator, the Business Manager at Grove House Surgery in Runcorn came up with the idea for the scheme. She said: “We are facing a period of unprecedented demand in General Practice and there is an increasing number of patients who are asking to see a GP because of health issues arising from being “ isolated”. There is often an assumption that it is only old people who are at risk of becoming isolated but that’s simply not what we experience. Children, first-time families and older people – we see people every day who are effectively isolated and respond to that isolation in very different ways. 

“We will be putting in place new local services and support for local people that we think will provide them with an alternative, and hopefully better choice, than accessing their GP.  We want local people to know they are not on their own and there is support/help/friendship out there in their local communities.”

Leigh Thompson, Director of Commissioning & Service Delivery (NHS Halton CCG) added: “Patient Connect is an innovative idea that has the potential to make a real difference to the people of Halton by targeting some of our most vulnerable residents. The opportunity to work with the Vikings, as well as the local Voluntary Sector and other local providers will be inspirational. By working together we want to set up services that will be different as we look to tackle the increasing demand that our General Practitioners are facing every day.”

The First Tackle projects will launch across August and September with further details to be announced on www.widnesvikings.co.uk. For further details contact Richard Munson on 07921 338629 or email richardm@widnesvikings.co.uk

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