Client Story


Warrington Wolves Foundation

Stories with Substance

Warrington Wolves Foundation (WWF) is the charitable arm of Warrington Wolves Rugby League Club. Since its formation in 2005, the foundation has been delivering a wide range of sporting, cultural and educational programmes to the communities of Warrington. The foundation is recognised as leading the way for other Rugby League clubs with their aim to build a stronger community through sport’WWF has been recognised for its work in the community by their National Governing Body and is annually shortlisted for ‘Foundation of the Year’, winning the title in 2015 and 2016.

Foundation of the year is a huge accolade however, WWF’s recent success in being crowned World Champions at the Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) is monumental. Winning 34-12 victory over South Sydney Rabbitohs at Sydney’s 83,000-capacity ANZ Stadium was a particular highlight for these local lads.

Inclusivity is not a buzz word for the foundation. Their offer for all people across Warrington, regardless of age, gender, ability or social interest is notable.

Projects range from the Children’s University, an out of curriculum education programme for 5-11 year olds, to the Match Buddies programme, providing dementia support to older residents. An array of sport and physical activity programmes sit alongside their education, heritage, mental health and disability offer.

Key partners including the Police and Crime Commission, acknowledge the vital role the foundation performs in supporting local communities. Aside from the sport and healthy lives outcomes, the foundation is regarded as contributory towards an array of wider social impact outcomes:

“The Commissioner appreciates the important role that the Foundation plays as a ‘trusted gateway’ into our communities for agencies such as the Police, through the many excellent initiatives that help prevent offending, bullying, anti-social behaviour and which instil positive behaviours amongst those who participate.”

[Peter Astley, MBE. Chief of Staff. Cheshire Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner]

Wolfie, the club mascot, alongside the club professional players’ act as ambassadors for the foundation and the dedicated team of sport and youth workers seek to engage with 30,000 people per year.

Foundation Director, Neil Kelly, instrumental in the charitable trust’s formation approached Substance in spring 2018. The Foundation and their partners had a strong belief that their approach of open, inclusive provision has great impact on the participants. Like many other sports for development organisations, they had previously struggled to articulate and demonstrate this impact in a robust, non-anecdotal manner and that’s where Substance stepped in:

“We approached Substance as we believe their services would assist us in measuring and communicating our impact to help us make more of a difference.”

[Neil Kelly. Director, Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation]

Substance were delighted to bring WWF into our impact measurement family. We recognised their desire to measure impact was driven by an aspiration to improve their work and in turn improve lives. Their passion for improving lives is infectious and we could see the capacity the team have to be able to tell their story more concisely. Kicking off with an assessment of what data was being collected, it became clear that a Theory of Change (ToC) workshop would help the foundation make important considered changes.

Data was previously stored within individual work plans with no clear and consistent interpretation of the data gathered. Following the ToC workshop a coherent roadmap, illustrating the links between their inputs, outputs and defining the outcomes leading to their ultimate goal was produced:

“The Theory of Change and Indicator Framework sessions held by Substance have helped us visualise our goal and by working with our stakeholders understand our outcomes better. The connections between our goal and outcomes are clearer and have given better knowledge of how to measure.”

[Neil Kelly. Director, Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation]

The research team headed back to Warrington to develop an indicator framework, defining indicators and associated project monitoring and assessment tools for their outcomes.

This framework is currently being aligned and configured into Views to allow the team a central point of data collection, storage and interrogation. When asked why Views was selected over other systems it was obvious that WWF see us as the industry leader and a trusted advocate:

Its current reputation of working in the sports industry. The system will be tailored to meet our needs and support staff in gathering data in a consistent and simple way. The main success from working with Substance on this project is the understanding and consistency it will bring to the organisation and staff reporting. The data will be invaluable to improving and sustaining our services.”

[Neil Kelly. Director, Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation].

The work has been welcomed and embraced by the Foundation’s Trutees who see it as a process as an important strategic milestone:

By working with Substance you can take a step back, and through their help and direction, gain a valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t and importantly regain control. This helps to refocus the Foundation’s activities to make a real difference in  places that need the greatest help and, importantly, helps give vital assurance to Trustees who oversee the work of the Charity.

[Foundation Trustee. Peter Astley, MBE. Chief of Staff. Cheshire Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner]

Recently crowned the ‘Pride of Warrington’ by rugby league fan ‘Russel Crowe’, for their huge success as PDRL World Champions, we are extremely proud to be able to help WWF grow their data, tell their story and continue to improve the amazing work they do for the communities of Warrington.

If you are interested in learning more about Substance research, please visit or email for more information.