Get yourself active blog

Representing DRUK at the National Para Swimming Championships

By Sophie Maziere, Trustee DRUK

druk-team-at-parallel-londonOn Saturday 10th December I had the pleasure of representing Disability Rights UK (DRUK) at the first day of the National Para Swimming Championships at Manchester Aquatics Centre, the home of the British Para-Swimming Team. The event was partnered by the English Federation of Disability Sport. The day got off to a great start with some of the medal winners from the Paralympics in Rio having the opportunity to be celebrated and to have their achievements recognised again with a ‘Parade of Champions’.

During the day, competitors as young as 10 years old and medal winners alongside aspiring champions competed in a range of events (breast stroke, freestyle and individual medley) with medals awarded for the first three placed competitors in each individual classification event, along with points to add to all competitors’ running totals. The event was a fantastic example of participation in sport, of achievement and sheer hard work. Young swimmers had the chance to be inspired by the performances of their peers, some of whom have become household names this year.


One of DRUK’s key priorities for 2016 to 2019 is Independent Living: getting a life. We believe it is your right as disabled people to be active in any way that is right for you and to choose, if you wish, to use your personal budget to achieve this. Our project, Get Yourself Active, launched in June this year in partnership with Sport England, supports disabled people to get more involved in physical activity and sport. It is working to break down barriers to participation and promote choice and control for individuals. Get Yourself Active is not only helping DPULOs to create physical activity opportunities but is also working at a national level to raise understanding of the value and benefits of using personal budgets for physical activity and sport.

parallel-londonThe English Federation of Disability Sport has the vision that ‘disabled people are active for life’ and whilst not everyone may be heading for Paralympian levels of sporting success (me included although I am very proud of achieving my first 5k for Parallel London this summer!), we all can benefit from the positive impact that more activity has including greater inclusion in our local communities.

No Barriers Radio


A Radio DJ has started an independent radio station primarily aimed at disabled individuals in a fight against discrimination. No Barriers Radio was started by David Braysher with the aim of bringing together this community of individuals around the world and provide them with a platform to put forward views and raise awareness of different impairments.

David has been a DJ since 1978, and has been an active DJ for hospital radio for six years. He has worked at Hillingdon Hospital Radio, Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow and now Bedfordshire. David’s inspiration comes from his own impairment. He wants to promote the message of no discrimination, wanting to help any disabled people and help to stamp out prejudice.

No Barriers Radio is recorded in David’s loft in North West London. David wants his show to be broadcast far and wide, and for more people to be involved in the production of the shows.

The radio station is designed to bring disabled people together and fight discrimination, whilst enabling disabled people to speak out and say exactly what they want.

David is looking for enthusiastic people to create and record their own shows from the comfort of their own homes.

If you are interested in presenting for No Barriers Radio contact David Braysher on 01895 676431, 07859 909909 or email

For more information visit No Barriers Radio.

To read more about No Barriers Radio and David click here.

Transforming Care

This article has been taken from Enabled City.

Enabled City has worked with Local Government Association to create seven films about the Transforming Care Programme. The films show how Transforming Care improves peoples lives.

Transforming Care is all about improving the lives of people with learning disability and/or autism who display behaviours that are described as challenging. We know that when people are empowered to live the way they chose and are involved in planning their support and care they have better lives.

The Local Government Association leads the empowerment workstream for the Transforming Care Programme. To support the workstream the LGA has set up an empowerment steering group to oversee the work.
Members of the empowerment steering group are all experts by experience. They all have experience of long stays in hospital, or have family members with experience.
Members of the group are now living good lives in the community and have worked together to develop a film about what being empowered means to them.

See the first film here:

Visit Enabled City’s website to read more and to view other films.

For more information visit

What Get Yourself Active means to me

By Kirsty Mulvey

I have been working as the Engagement and Research Officer for the Get Yourself Active programme at Disability Rights UK for two months now. This job involves building partnerships between disabled people, the physical activity and sport sector, and the health and social care sectors in each of our partner areas.

I have previously worked as part of the Insight Team at one of the UK’s 45 County Sports Partnerships, so I had a good understanding of the physical activity and sports sector when I joined the Get Yourself Active team. However, I had very little knowledge of health care and social care policies, or of personal budgets or many of the different kinds of disability benefits. Although I have nine years’ experience engaging directly with disabled children through a small charity that provides a ten day holiday for 20 disabled children each year, this is my first time working with and for disabled people in a professional capacity. I had a good understanding of the social model of disability, and was aware of a lot of the challenges disabled people faced in terms of getting active, as well as the broader obstacles disabled people face in their daily lives. Yet like many people I was oblivious to a lot of the issues facing disabled people. I knew I had a lot to learn.

My first month was particularly intense. During my first few weeks I visited our new partners and attended lots of meetings in the social and health care sectors. Getting my head around how social care and health care works wasn’t easy, especially as no two areas are the same. I’ve attended Disability Awareness Training, and learned about social prescribing, the history of personalisation, how personal budget are calculated, how to write a support plan and much more through Support Brokerage Training. I’ve learnt the terminology for ideas that seem so obvious, e.g. co-production. It’s such a simple and obvious idea that if an organisation is going to create a policy about a segment of society then they should work with them, using all intersections from that group.

I was attracted to the Get Yourself Active project because I believe that physical activity and sport is something that should be afforded to everyone, regardless of their ability or skill level. In Public Health England’s Everybody Active, Every Day strategy it is written, “If being active was a pill, we would be rushing to prescribe it”. It is widely reported that being active can help to improve physical health such as losing weight and improving strength, balance and fitness, but it also improves mental health. It allows participants to be more independent, see their friends, be part of the community, meet new people, be part of a team and be more confident. The benefits gained from participating in physical activity can also extend into wider society. For example, if someone is becoming more confident this might be the boost they need to search for the job that they’ve wanted for so long. Or if they have increased balance they will fall less and reduce the number of times they have to go to their GP or to A&E, therefore reducing the cost to the NHS. Although there are many economic benefits, being able to include disabled people in all aspects of society should be reason enough.

I’ve always had a personal interest in the barriers to physical activity and sport that women and girls experience, but since starting work on this project I have noticed that disabled people face similar, albeit still worse, challenges. Knowledge about where to go to find activities is the biggest hurdle to overcome. I know from some of the work that I’ve been doing in mapping physical activities in each partner area that there is a lot out there for disabled people, whether this be disability-specific sessions or inclusive sessions. The problem often seems to be that the physical activity and sport sector isn’t very good at communicating this to disabled people. It also recognises that traditional sports are not the right fit for everyone, which is why it encourages fun physical activity, including going for a walk or joining a local gardening club, is so important. This is why I think Get Yourself Active can be good, because we are aiming to join up the wants and needs of disabled people with the physical activity and sport sector, and the health and social care sectors.

However, Get Yourself Active isn’t just about opening up opportunities for disabled people to take part in physical activity and sport. It’s about giving disabled people a voice and empowering them to manage their wellbeing in a way that is right for them, working to break down any barriers facing them. We want to provide disabled people with the resources so that they have the freedom, choice and control over their wellbeing. This includes discussing with their social workers and having it written into their support plan that they want to take part in physical activity or sport, and use their personal budgets to support them to do this, if that’s what they want to do.

Having worked in Insight before, I fully understand the importance of monitoring and evaluating our project. This is why I am glad we are working with our great evaluation partners OPM to make sure that we are collecting the right information in the right way. We want to make sure that this project is replicable and proves its worth if we are to secure more funding and it is to be rolled out at a national level. It is also great that Sport England, our funders, are not basing the success of this project solely on the number of disabled people that we engage with and who participate in our project. Instead they are looking at the wider benefits that disabled people have achieved by participating in Get Yourself Active, including greater choice and control in their lives.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead, developing the relationships with our new partners as well as between disabled people, the physical activity and sport sector, and health and social care sectors, and I have no doubt we will meet our targets for year three.

Sport England’s Active People Survey (APS) results were released last week, and it is sad to see that the number and percentage of disabled people getting active has declined since the last APS results were released. This makes the Get Yourself Active project all the more exciting, and if this project is rolled out wider in the future it should contribute to the increase of disabled people taking part in physical activity and sport because they will have the support that they need to participate in an activity in a way that is right for them.

Part of my job is to keep a regular flow of communications to our stakeholders. This means communicating via Twitter, posting news stories and personal experiences blogs, and creating the new monthly newsletter. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our communications then please email me at   

Don’t forget to sign up to our new monthly newsletter here.

Why I Run

By Andrew Smith

yh-2016-14Why I run is a question I’m often asked and a question I ask other runners too. I find it fascinating and intriguing to discover the many and sometimes complex reasons why people run. In today’s increasingly time consuming and fast moving society, why anyone would want to run with an already crowded social and work calendar when it is easier to get home, switch on the television and watch others running round a track, can be hard to comprehend.

I can only speak for myself why I run but like many others my reasons are various, complex and intertwined. What I get from running mentally and emotionally has changed too as my journey has continued and may even change again.

The best place for me to start is with some background information on my life and my running journey. This is my story of why I run.

qrc-wywl-dewsbury-13Growing up I was never sporty. I played football, rugby, cricket and ran round a field at school, but I was always the runt of the class, one of the last to be picked and usually the last to finish. Through my teens, twenties and thirties I would play 5-a-side with work colleagues, but that was it as far as sport and running was concerned. Running was not for me. Into my forties and I stopped playing 5-a-side and the weight piled on. I soon went from around 14st when I turned forty to 19st 10lbs aged 45. I didn’t think anything of it. I was getting older and getting fatter was part of the process. Everybody went through the same thing and I was no different. This was life as I knew it.

But before all the weight piled on I had been diagnosed with depression in April 2001. For months before this I hadn’t been feeling well mentally, emotionally or physically. I was tired and disinterested in many things. The only respite I had was drinking with my mates at the weekends. Long term this didn’t solve anything but you don’t think long term when you get that short term fix of drinking yourself into oblivion so you can forget everything that you perceive as bad about your life. Your problems seemed solved because you can’t remember them. Until you come round the next day to realise that they’re still there, they haven’t gone away and all you can think about is the next weekend and going through the same routine.


So off to the doctors I went, and with his usual abrupt manner he told me I had depression. He put me on anti-depressants to help lift my mood so I could ‘man up’, get a grip and carry on with life as if nothing was wrong.

Except it was. The anti-depressants are, in my opinion, like state sanctioned alcohol tablets. They mask the problems causing you to be depressed because they make you drowsy, dull your senses and you are not fully aware of what is going on around you. This is my own opinion and others will have a different experience depending on what tablets they were prescribed and the dosage. I ended up on 40mg of Citalopram a day which made life bearable and forgettable. I tried Prozac for a while but not being able to stop inside because all four walls were closing in on you is not a good experience.

The depression, stress and anxiety continued to get worse as my problems mounted, despite the anti-depressants . I was reluctant to ask my doctor for an increase in dosage because I was already on 40mg a day and was having problems functioning fully day-to-day. I was also fearful of becoming addicted to them and then asking for higher and higher dosages to ensure that I got the same hit.

So during the mid 2000’s I found myself dependent on anti-depressants to get through the day. Stress and anxiety levels were increasing all the time, as were problems with alcohol and money, and I was in a job I hated. I could see no way out. I didn’t know who to turn to or where to go. This is the loneliest place to be. I decided that the only way to solve everything would be to take my own life. I mean who would miss a loser like me? So I made my first suicide attempt sometime in 2005. I attempted to overdose on tablets. I remember falling asleep and waking up the next morning drowsy – but alive. That morning I phoned in sick to work but was in work the following day as if nothing had happened. I told no one about this. What could anyone do to help me?

The Samaritans is a charity available 24 hours a day offering a free confidential listening service to anyone in distress. Call 116 123 or email

But life carries on regardless. I was alive and I had no choice but to regather my thoughts and get on with life. So I did.

Things got more and more intense and overwhelming for me though. I was in a desperate cycle of depression, anxiety and stress with no way out. This carried on for years and during the latter part of this period of my life I was somehow surviving on one hour of sleep a night and constantly have suicidal thoughts all through the day. This was not good for me or anyone around me and is not the way to live your life. Something needed to change.

st-2016-5And change it did. For many years, I had felt different and slightly out of touch with the rest of society. I didn’t know why, I couldn’t put my finger on anything and no one around me seemed to know either. And then my best friend Jill suggested I may have Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. I did some research into Asperger’s and for the first time ever I could identify personality traits in myself with the characteristics of Asperger’s. It was like a light switch coming on in my head. I began to understand myself in a different way and look at society and life in a different way too.

What is Asperger syndrome?

However, this was only the start of a very long and tortuous journey through the minefield of getting a diagnosis which I eventually got in October 2008 after 18 months of battling a system that was seemingly more interested in money than the wellbeing of the patients it was supposed to be serving. I didn’t give in though and I got the diagnosis I felt I needed to move on with my life.

And move on I did. In 2009 I returned to college and got my O and A Levels. This enabled me to study for a degree in sociology at the University of Huddersfield. I began writing and performing poetry which fulfilled a need I had in me to be creative and express myself. But there was still something missing and this is when I discovered running.

I was chronically overweight and unfit due to an unhealthy diet and drinking too much alcohol. I had tried going to the gym but didn’t stick at it. Lifting weights in a room just wasn’t doing it for me and I got bored easily. Then on one of the Queensbury Facebook pages I saw an advertisement for people who wanted to start running to join a new beginners group at Queensbury Running Club. The guy who was running it was someone I had worked with many years before so I decided to give it a go.

wsfr-2016-4That first session was hard but I enjoyed it. It was a nice pace with some walking in between. I coped with it and didn’t feel it was beyond me. This was around April 2014 and I carried on going all through the summer. Then autumn came; it got colder, wet and windy and I didn’t want to go out running anymore. Without realising it I had become a fair weather runner.

Over the autumn and winter of 2014 I stayed in and didn’t do any running. The weight stayed on and I was still searching for that missing something that would give my life more meaning and plug a hole in it.

March 2015 came round and I went to London for a professional voice acting recording. I was told I have a very good voice for recording but found it difficult to breath correctly due to weighing so much. I knew I needed to change if I was to make anything of my voice and so I went back to the running club at the first opportunity.

I soon got back into running, even more so than before. The club had expanded since my last visit and a lot more people had joined but after a couple of weeks it was as if I’d never been away. I was struggling, especially with getting my breathing right, but I was enjoying it and looked forward to running every Thursday night with the Queensbury Running Club gang.

I started slowly. From memory my first parkrun at Lister Park, Bradford was around 45 minutes and most of that was walking. I went to Shroggs Park, Halifax and I ran 40 minutes. I had knocked 5 minutes off my time but I was still walking part of the course. This was my next aim, to be able to run a full 5k with no stopping for hills or else I felt tired. I was determined that nothing would stop me achieving this target.

This was a major breakthrough for me. Rather than giving in and telling myself I couldn’t do it I told myself I could do it. And I did it. One summers day I laced up my running shoes and ran down one of the local roads. This was a good tactic as it allowed me to warm up without the added pressure of running uphill and get my legs ready for the long journey ahead of them.

I went down the hill and felt good. This is a nice road and at about a mile long is perfect for a warm up. Right up a small hill before down again. Before I knew it I had run 2 miles non-stop for the first time and I was running into uncharted territory. Would I manage 3 miles or would I collapse in a heap waiting for some dog walker to come by and rescue me?

I needn’t have worried. I carried on and on and on. All of a sudden I was running very slowly uphill but I was still moving and I passed the magical 3 mile mark according to my watch. I was so happy. I had achieved my running dream and run 3 miles without stopping. I felt like a Olympic superstar.

And from that point on running became fun as well as a way of losing weight and getting fit. I started running 3 miles and more on a regular basis and hills that had previously defeated me I conquered. It wasn’t easy and I would never pretend it was but the sense of achievement I felt was like nothing I had experienced before. I proved to myself I could do something, that it was not beyond me and most of all I enjoyed the experience.

And this continued. I entered races which, whilst I knew I had no chance of winning, I derived pleasure from by pushing myself to my limits and beyond. I found that I was capable of far more than I thought I was. I could do things I never believed I could and I discovered a new me, a better me that had more self-belief, more ability and more confidence.


This has gone over into other areas of my life. I now have more confidence in everyday life and I have learnt to be more patient. Running is a good analogy of life. It’s hard work, the results don’t come quickly but if you stick with it and persevere you do see an improvement in your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

And now over two years since I started running I’ve been to places I would never have been otherwise. I’ve met people I would never have met and had some of the most amazing experiences all through running. My mental, emotional, and physical health has improved immensely. I’m eating better, sleeping better, and living life to the full and I’ve got running to thank for it.

To keep up to date with Andy’s running or to read his blog in more detail visit his website. You can follow Andy on Twitter@andyqby28.

For information and support on mental health problems visit or contact your local GP.

The Samaritans is a charity available 24 hours a day offering a free confidential listening service to anyone in distress.  Call 116 123 or email

Realising the Value: putting people and communities at the heart of health and wellbeing

Article taken from

realising-the-valueRealising the Value was an 18-month programme, funded by NHS England and led by Nesta and the Health Foundation. It sought to enable the health and care system to support people to have the knowledge, skills and confidence to play an active role in managing their own health and to work with communities and their assets.

The key lessons and recommendations are based on what they think it means to realise fully the value of people and communities at the heart of health and wellbeing – a ‘social model of health’ that combines a deep understanding of what matters to people, with excellent clinical care, timely data, and strong, sustained social support.

The system has committed to this broad agenda and work is underway to embed person- and community-centred approaches in national programmes and in the delivery of local services. There now needs to be a step change in ambition, leadership and alignment – combined with sustained implementation – to move from intent to action.

To read the full report click here.

Get Yourself Active aligns with the Realising the Value programme in that we believe that individuals should have the power to choose what is right for them in terms of their own wellbeing. Everyone should have the chance to discuss their wellbeing and what it means to them, and be provided with the options available to meet their desired objectives.

Disabled people should be able to choose a way of getting active in a way that is right for them, achieving the aims that matter to them. This could mean buying an adapted bicycle to lose weight or joining a local gardening club to meet new people.

Disabled people are at the heart of what we do which is why we work closely with Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) in local communities as well as the physical activity and sports sector, and the health and social care sectors to create a network of opportunities for disabled people. Person- and community-centred approaches are integral to the success of our programme, both at a national level as well as a local level.


UK Sport sets out Tokyo 2020 investment figures

UK Sport, the nation’s high performance sport agency, has revealed its aspiration for British athletes to come home with more medals and medalists at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire the nation, underpinned by a £345m investment of Government and National Lottery funds.

Read the original article on the UK Sport website.

View the investment figures here.

UK Disability History Month 2016

UK Disability History Month (UKDHM) is an annual event creating a platform to focus on the history of our struggle for equality and human rights.

2016 is its seventh year.

Keep up to date with news and events at

The theme for UKDHM in 2016 focuses on the language used to describe disabled people and the language disabled people use to express themselves. This includes literature, history, oral history and coverage in the newspapers and other print media. Through the lens of language we will seek to gain a greater understanding of our oppression in the past and now. Through human rights and the social model approach to disability, barriers can be removed.

‘Living with a long-term impairment- sensory, physical, cognitive,
psychosocial or a combination, places one in a minority compared to non-disabled people. As the comedian, writer and activist Francesca Martinez put it in her book ‘What the **** is Normal?!

What do you do when you’re labelled abnormal in a world obsessed with normality? In a world where wrinkles are practically illegal, going bald is cause for mental breakdown, and women over size ten are encouraged to shoot themselves, what the **** do you do if you’re, gasp… disabled?…Choosing to accept yourself is a political act. An act of liberation.”’

Download the 2016 Broadsheet here

Also available as word a word document, Text only version, Large-print version.

UKDHM Banner

Latest Active People Survey results show a decline in disabled people participating in physical activity

Figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey 10 results were published this week. On the whole, sports participation continues to increase, with 16.0 million adults over 16 years old now playing sport at least once a week. This is 1.88 million more than in 2005/6. However, most adults (57%) still do not play sport once a week.

800x691px-sport-england-motivate-east-0254There has also been a decline in the number of disabled people playing sport once a week, down 20,900 over the last 12 months to 1.60 million (16.8%), 600 fewer people than in March 2016. However, this figure is still an increase of 267,000 compared with APS1. Amongst people with a long term limiting illness or disability aged 14 years and over, 1.70 million (17.3%) played sport once a week.

It is not all bad, however! The gender participation gap which once stood at over two million, has narrowed to 1.55 million. 7.20 million women now do regular physical activity and play sport. This is a quarter of a million more women than when Sport England launched the This Girl Can campaign in January 2015.

The Rio Paralympics appears to have increased the profile of disability sport and had a huge positive effect in terms of participation by disabled people in the month of September 2016 (683,000 more compared to the same month in 2015).

Read the original article at EFDS.

Read more about the latest APS10 figures on the Sport England website.