During the lockdown one of Yeovil Rugby Clubs newer members has been doing her bit to help tidy up the streets and paths around the town. With the start of the new mixed ability teams opening last year Ella was able to finally join a local rugby team, something she has wanted to do for a long time but unfortunately until now was unable to achieve. Diagnosed with several learning difficulties Ella has never been able to join in with team sports, which is why offering a fantastic opportunity to our local community in the way of both female and male mixed ability teams is driving our club forward and setting a great example to other grass roots clubs. Mixed ability isn’t just about players with physical or mental difficulties and provides a safe place to learn, develop and play rugby with other like-minded individuals. Joining our club as meant Ella has been able to finally achieve a lifelong dream to learn to play Rugby and has brought her into our Rugby Family.
The newest teams to the club had only just begun to get going when the worldwide pandemic hit, and until we return to training and some form of normality the progress made cannot be pushed forward but Ella continues to support the club where possible and has kept herself busy during all the lockdowns. Learning about Ella’s street cleaning efforts was something I personally found admirable, and I wanted to speak to her more about just why and how she decided to start this community project.
Hi Ella, Could you please tell me a little more about yourself?
My name is Ella, I am 40, and I am on the autistic spectrum and have complexed mental health issues. I have a degree in Fine Art from Coventry University. I went on to do a Master’s degree in Arts and Education which unfortunately I was unable to complete because of illness. I am originally from Cornwall, but I have lived in London, Manchester and Birmingham before deciding to settle in Yeovil in 2016 where my Mum, Dad and my sister and her family live. In Birmingham I worked in The Barber Institute of Fine Arts as an intern in the education department and as a workshop assistant helping to teach children art skills. Due to my complex mental health needs I have not been able to work since I came to Yeovil but before lockdown I used to volunteer in Yeovil library, since moving to Yeovil I have also done an access course in Health and Social Care at Yeovil College.
So you’re a player on our women’s mixed ability team, we were very excited to have launched our mixed ability teams last year. Can you tell us why you decided to come and try rugby ? And what it’s like for you?
I have wanted to play rugby for most of my life but unfortunately I have never really been able to do any kind of sport, especially team sport. Because of my autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia. In team sport I am normally left very confused as to what is going and what I am meant to do. Which leaves me very stressed. I saw Yeovil mixed ability team on Facebook so thought I would be brave and just see what it was like. In the mixed ability rugby team things are explained more clearly and everything is done at your own pace and ability. Even though I haven't been able to play much because of covid 19. I really enjoy it and can’t wait for rugby to restart. Everyone on the team and at the club are very friendly (it’s one big rugby family).
During lockdown you’ve kept yourself busy with a variety of things including your art and daily exercise around the town, including regular litter picks. Why did you start that?
During lockdown I have been keeping busy by doing lots arts and crafts (including colouring, cross-stitch, paper cutting, quilling, painting and loads more) I have been doing a daily art challenge that is run by an organisation called 64 Million Artists. I have recently learnt how to use zoom and I do several online courses which are run by the WEA (workers educational association) which includes; the history of printmaking, Meditation and mindfulness, developing your creative art for wellbeing and crafts for creative wellbeing. I also go out litter picking as much as I can, which because of lockdown I have to litter pick as part of my daily walk. I started litter picking in the summer because I find it awful the amount of litter that is around everywhere therefore I wanted to do something about it. It feels good to do your bit to help your local area.
How often are you littering picking and how much have you found?
I try to go litter picking at least 2 times a week (each time I go out I carry on until I have a full bin bag and a full trolley of recycling). So far this year - (1st to 28th Jan) I have personally collected 9 bin bags of rubbish and 5 trolleys full of recycling. Team Yeovil have collected a total of 313 bags so far this year. I pick around Yeovil town centre and I mainly find cans and bottles, lots of face masks, cigarette packets, plastic of all kinds, and drug debris including used needles (these are safely removed by the lady that runs team Yeovil. with a sharps box which is supplied by the council)
Are you part of a team or are you doing it alone?
At the moment I litter pick alone due to government guidelines and lockdown but I belong to a litter picking group called 'team Yeovil' which is part of 'Florence's street clean mission'. The team has around 50 members and are always looking for more volunteers.