LEEDS RHINOS will wear a one-off jersey in tomorrow’s home game against St Helens, to raise awareness of mental health issues.
The Leeds Building Society logo will be replaced – for one game only – by that of Samaritans.
As Rhinos’ main sponsor, the building society owns the space on the club’s playing shirt, but has decided to donate it to the charity which provides support to anyone suffering emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide.
Gary Brook, the sponsors’ head of corporate communication, said: “We asked Leeds Building Society members and colleagues what social issues mattered to them most and they identified mental wellbeing, isolation and loneliness.
“That’s why we decided to partner Samaritans to raise £250,000. It is our first-ever national partner charity and we are in a unique position to donate the front of the shirt, which would normally say Leeds Building Society, to Samaritans so we can raise awareness of the work they do.”
Representatives from Samaritans will be at tomorrow’s game and Brook added: “It is our space to donate. We wanted a partner charity that met the needs of our members and mental wellbeing is really important.
“You see rugby players, they are strong, fit and you think they are frightened of nothing, but mental wellbeing affects everyone in different ways and we are just trying to raise awareness to a different audience.
“This is a unique way of doing that. Leeds against Saints is always a big game, it will be a big crowd and it is televised. Hopefully people will see that and know if they need support there is someone to reach out to.”
Rhinos players, including captain Trent Merrin, support the work done by Samaritans and Brook said: “They are tremendous, they have visited the Samaritans’ offices and the charity’s shop close to the ground and they have thrown themselves into it wholeheartedly.
“Past and present players have spoken about their own mental wellbeing issues and it is a real positive when you’ve got elite sportsmen who are prepared to open up and share their challenges. It promotes the message you are not alone.”