KIND-HEARTED rugby players have rallied around to support vulnerable LGBTQ+ people ahead of Christmas.

The Colchester Kings rugby club, based at Colchester Sports Park, is supporting The Outhouse, a charity which supports the LGBTQ+ community across Essex, with its second annual Christmas gift drive.

On Tuesday evening, more than 25 team members from Colchester and further afield joined colleagues and volunteers from the charity, local businesses, and Colchester Pride, another charity based in the city, swapping their muddy rugby kits for cosy Christmas jumpers to wrap about 30 gift boxes.

The gifts were generously donated by players and supporters of the Kings and will be given to vulnerable LGBTQ+ people who may be facing challenges in the festive season.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Drive - the team wrapped about 30 gift boxesDrive - the team wrapped about 30 gift boxes (Image: Colchester Kings)

The team’s founder and chairman, Sam Biscoe, who launched the Colchester Kings last year as the region’s first gay and inclusive rugby team, was delighted to be able to support the charity with his teammates.

“Not only did the gift drive allow the Kings an opportunity to give something back to our local community, it also gave us a good excuse to get together, have a few mince pies, and sing badly to Christmas songs,” he said.

“Rugby players aren’t known for their crafty wrapping skills, so thankfully the team at The Outhouse were on hand to neaten up any rogue wonky edges and tie a few bows for us.

“We’re so grateful to be part of a growing community who look out for each other, especially at this time of year.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Festive - the Kings were joined by colleagues from The OuthouseFestive - the Kings were joined by colleagues from The Outhouse (Image: Colchester Kings)

The Outhouse, based in East Hill, Colchester, provides opportunities for LGBTQ+ people in Essex to promote a sustainable, fair, and equal society where everyone in the community can achieve their full potential.

Paul Wells, assistant volunteer officer, said: “We know that many people from this community are more likely to experience loneliness, depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges at this time of year.

“This gift drive allows us to reach out to our existing and previous users from all corners of the community to remind them they’re not alone and that there are services on offer to support them.”