Get yourself active blog

London’s first ever dedicated inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company has just received backing through the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund

Saturday 29 April 2017

Pioneering inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company receives backing from the dance enterprise ideas fund

  • Around 10.7 million people watch the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing
  • There are 11.2 million disabled people in the UK (that’s 1 in 5 of us)
  • Wheelchair Latin and Ballroom dance is recognised by the International Paralympic Committee and disabled and non-disabled couples compete together around the world.

Why in a city of 8.7 million people, isn’t there a single place in London to regularly participate in inclusive ballroom?

This is about to change with the establishment of the pioneering Step Change Studios – London’s first ever dedicated inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company, which has just received backing through the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund.

Established by Rashmi Becker, who has a background in disability advocacy and is guardian to her older disabled brother, and Nuno Sabroso, a respected and seasoned dance professional who was top two in the world wheelchair dance rankings, Step Change Studios will provide opportunities for everyone, from beginners wanting to dance for fun and wellbeing, to more advanced dancers wanting to compete at the highest levels or to perform.

Rashmi Becker said:

“What started as a wishful conversation with Nuno about creating opportunities for inclusive Latin and Ballroom has become a reality. Step Change Studios is a response to the ongoing calls for dedicated, regular opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to dance together. Our personal experience of dance and disability made us determined that Latin and Ballroom dance must be inclusive not exclusive. I am heartened by the engagement from the dance, sport and disability sectors and the wider public for Step Change Studios and its vision.

“In backing Step Change Studios, the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund demonstrates a positive commitment to inclusive dance. We want Step Change Studios to be transformative, challenging perceptions of what’s possible as we create more opportunities for people to participate and achieve their potential. I am certain this early, start-up support will be a catalyst for change and enable Step Change Studios to make a positive impact”.

Polly Risbridger, Director of East London Dance and Chair of the Dance Enterprise Ideas Summit said:

The Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund panel are delighted to have awarded Rashmi and Step Change Studios funding to help launch London’s first dance company dedicated to inclusive Latin and ballroom dance. Along with the other award recipients this project is testament to the creativity, entrepreneurialism, and generosity of the UK independent dance sector and we were impressed by Rashmi’s passion about the impact she wants to make.”

Step Change Studios will deliver: regular dance classes and lessons for all levels; bespoke programmes and projects in healthcare, social care education and community settings; and professional performance works that showcase inclusive Latin and Ballroom. Established in London, Step Change Studios will also deliver tailored opportunities nationally.

Step Change Studios is supported by the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund – an East London Dance initiative funded by Foundation for FutureLondon, English National Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, Dancers’ Career Development, Discover Young Hackney & Hackney Council, Redbridge Drama Centre and Theatre Royal Stratford East and supported by One Dance UK.

Rashmi would like to hear from experienced disabled dancers interested in taking part in the showcase, and from disabled and non-disabled people, and organisations working with disabled people of all abilities and levels interested in dancing.
Visit: for contact details.

Visit our events page to find out about events that may be taking place near you.

Boccia Buddies in Bath

Friday 28 April 2017

Bath Sports and Leisure Centre invite you to join their Free Boccia Buddies sessions

Where: Bath Sports & Leisure Centre

When: 11.30-12.30

May 11th and 25th

June 8th and 22nd

July 6th and 20th

August 3rd, 17th and 31st

All equipment provided. Contact for more information.

Click here for further information about events that may be taking place near you.

Social workers needed to support with health and wellbeing research

Thursday 27 April 2017

Disability Rights UK has partnered with University of Birmingham and Sport England to develop evidence based guidelines to help social workers to have conversations with disabled people in receipt of social care support (personal budgets and direct payments) about how and where to be physically active and importantly why.

Our findings

Disability Rights UK has been working with partners in disabled people’s user led organisations to develop models of practice to support more disabled people to be active locally. The evidence we have gathered through our partners has helped us to understand that social workers are an important group of professionals who can instigate positive conversations about physical activity as part of assessment, support planning and review processes. We now want to find a way to support busy social work professionals to transfer this crucial information and knowledge about physical activity to the people they support.

Evidence based guidelines

Our guide will include;

  • Information and statistics on the benefits of physical activity for disabled people in particular
  • Examples of good practice
  • Evidence of the outcomes associated with physical activity
  • Advice in how to quickly and easily source information about what activities are available for people to access

What we need

We are seeking social work practitioners who can give up one
hour of their time this May or early June to speak with the researchers at University of Birmingham about the guidelines we have developed.

We may ask participants to take part in a further evaluation of the guidelines in July 17 for one hour.

How to get involved

If you or someone you know would be interested in taking part in the research, please contact Leanne Wightman on 020 7250 8186 or email

Always Exercise, Sometimes Sport

Wednesday 26 April 2017

This week’s Personal Experience Blog comes from Sue Kent from Mumbles, Wales

My name is Sue Kent and I am a sports massage therapist with a difference – I use my feet to provide massage in my clinic in Wales. I am the first person to gain this qualification using my feet and have had the privilege to work at the Paralympics in 2012. I have full use of my legs but 8″ arms and 7 fingers.

My disability was caused by the drug thalidomide. Thalidomiders, as we are collectively known, were all born in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There are just under 500 of us still alive in the UK today.

As a result of my condition I use my body in different ways to cope with normal everyday physical tasks. Exercise is one of the major factors that can prevent and often reverse some of the effects of the constant wear and tear on my body.

One of the reasons I am as fit as I am is thanks to my mum. At the age of five I was put into ballet classes. It was not the ballet itself, but the pre-dance stretches, that gave me the ability to reach my head with my toes. This gave me the independence to be able to wash and brush my hair and dress myself. The ballet itself gave me the balance to stand on one leg in a balanced position. It set me on a life of stretching. When I got to the age of fourteen I realised I wasn’t going to be a ballet dancer and moved to martial arts as they have similar warm-up routines. Since the age of 27 I have done yoga every week.

I was also lucky enough to attend a school with a swimming pool and had a couple of great teachers, so I have swum for as long as I can remember. Swimming is one of the safest exercises and helps strengthen the heart, the legs and back without excessive wear and tear on the hips and knees joints. It also makes me feel graceful in the water. My arms move freely and different muscles activated.

At the same time I was taught to ride an adapted bike and I still ride every week in the summer months with friends. I don’t ride in winter as my hands cannot grip through gloves.

I suffered with asthma from childhood into my early 40s, so had always avoided running. But after listening to a disability podcast by BBC Ouch featuring a lady who was told she could never run as her lungs wouldn’t take it, but with interval training had completed a marathon, I followed her example and learned to run short distances – a maximum of 3 kilometres. 5 kilometres always seemed beyond me but my coach and my husband managed to drag the distance out of me for two big disability events. Having to achieve longer distances takes the joy out of it for me. Generally I would rather do my varying sport and exercise for fun rather than enter events.

10 years ago I stumbled across a canoe with pedals not paddles by Hobie, I had watched from the shore as my family canoed each summer and was overjoyed that I could now join in.

At the age of 40 I took up skiing. I started in Whistler, Canada because they are really set up to help disabled people. Just two weeks there gave me firm foundations and lots of confidence. Skiing without poles involves a specific type of fitness. Training would start six weeks before the trip so my stomach muscles could get me off the floor should I fall, and my leg muscles were strong enough to move me along on the flat bits, I loved skiing but have taken the decision not to continue as I do not want to risk a broken limb at the age I am now. I also gave up dingy sailing two years ago, much as I love it I was getting too bruised and as I get older I recover more slowly from injury so I focus on activities that are less damaging.

I provide relief and succour to athletes taking part in local triathlons and the Welsh Ironman. At these events, when I am not working, I venture out to watch the athletes and marvel at their madness and determination. As you have read, I can swim, cycle and run, and so at the age of 53 I took part in the UK’s first inclusive mass-participation sports event Para Tri, which took place at Dorney Lake in Windsor. Every barrier that a disabled person could think of, (and believe me I tried), was removed where possible and every assistance was offered.

Personally, having had two falls a couple of years ago, I was aware that I needed to keep on top of my physical health. So when approached to do this event I thought it would be interesting to see what benefits it brought to me.

I decided to go all in and take on the longest of event, the Full Para Tri. I had seven weeks in which to learn to swim 750m on my front, to cycle 20k non-stop, and the worst thing for me – to run 5k. Cycling and running these longer distances I did get some nerve entrapment in my lower back and had to have physiotherapy and sport massage to halt the onset of sciatic pain but it was worth it.

The highlight was to see families and friends with and without disabilities working as a team and experiencing a sporting event together.

There is a new event this year in August run by Sophia Warner, which will provide a springboard for families and individuals to expand their sporting lives and give them confidence, health and abilities other arenas cannot provide.

For me, having any physical disability creates vulnerability and this increases the risk of having an accident or getting an injury. The value of exercise is perhaps more important to those without disabilities to protect long-term health and independence. Exercise and strength conditioning of muscles can increase strength, core stability and balance; by doing this it helps reduce physical vulnerability.

Find out more about Sue Kent by visiting her website at or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

If you have a story to share about how you get active then get in touch with us.

Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon Voucher :)

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people.

You can do this in your home. It would take in total about 15 minutes of your time.

The project

Disability Rights UK has partnered with University of Birmingham to conduct a study into how we produce knowledge and information about physical activity aimed at disabled people.

Our findings

Disability Rights UK has been working with partners in disabled people’s user led organisations to develop models of practice to support more disabled people to be active locally. The evidence we will gather from this research will help us to understand how disabled people want physical activity knowledge to be communicated.

Who should take part in the research?

We would like to hear from you…

  • If you consider yourself disabled and affected by one or more of the following impairments: amputation, spinal cord injury, restricted growth, Cerebral Palsy, visual impairment, hearing impairment
  • If you have been unable to take part regularly in physical activity or sport for a while
  • If you are over the age of 18

How to get involved

Get in touch with us if you are interested in taking part in our research and give us your name and the best way for the researcher to contact you. We will then arrange a time for you to take part in the researcher from your own home. Once your bit is done you will receive your £15 Amazon voucher. You may also randomly be selected to receive £100 Amazon Voucher!

Who to contact

Eva Jaarsma – Research Fellow at University of Birmingham


Read more about the partnership between Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham.

Today is World Skipping Day…Yay!!!

Friday 21 April 2017

Skipping is an activity some of us participated in when we were kids, but do you know you can still skip and have fun even as an adult?

According to the British Rope Skipping Association, 10 minutes of skipping can have the same health benefits as a 45-minute run. Skipping is a full body workout which uses your abdominal muscles to stabilise the body, your legs for jumping, and your shoulders and arms for turning the rope. So if skipping is accessible to you, why don’t you give it a go and have fun doing it? It is not expensive and does not require a large amount of space. Celebrate with other people skipping today and make it a habit. Get active get skipping!

For more information on skipping click here.

Visit our information in your local area page to find out how you can get active near you.

Walks for All comes to Trafford

Friday 21 April 2017

Walks for All is an exciting, new opportunity being run by Trafford Centre for Independent Living. Funded by Awards for All, the project will map the accessibility of a number of local walking routes, so that disabled people and those with a health condition can enjoy the outdoors, safe in the knowledge that their route will inform them of accessibility needs.

The initial idea for the Walks for All project was sparked by conversations with our members who wanted to improve fitness and wellbeing. Despite the number of established walking groups across the Trafford area, our members felt more comfortable attending the monthly health walks we were running, as they felt secure in the knowledge that the walks would suit their health needs. Their peers would understand if they needed to rest, or required the route to be wheelchair accessible. Our Walks for All maps will include important information such as the length of the walk, the location of benches and resting areas, as well as the location of toilets (including accessible bathrooms), cafes and other relevant information. Routes will also include information about accessible transport routes to the walking destinations too. These points have all stemmed from the requests of our members with regards to accessibility.

Our Walks for All project will see disabled people contribute in all aspects of this project – planning routes, identifying and recording accessibility, as well as contributing to the final design of the maps.

At the end of the project, we will have links available from our website and social media too, so that the accessible route information is available to all. Disabled people will be able to access the walks at a time and day that suits them, further promoting their independence and choice.

If you’d like to be involved, there are several ways you can take part:

  1. Share your ideas. Tell us where you like to walk so we can map the area and its accessibility.
  2. If you have a disability or health condition yourself, tell us what access needs are important to you.
  3. Come along on the walks and help us to map and photograph the route, using our equipment.
  4. Help us design the maps for our walking routes.
  5. Try out the walking routes for us.

You can find out more on the website or by contacting Jules on 0161 850 0645.

Read more about how nature-based interventions can play a role in improving mental health.

Disability Rights UK announces new chief executive

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Disability Rights UK has announced that Kamran Mallick will replaced Liz Sayce as chief executive of the charity, following her decision to retire.

Currently chief executive of Action on Disability, the Hammersmith-based disability organisation, Mallick has previously worked for the spinal injury charity Aspire as well as running his own business.

Commenting on his appointment, Mallick said:

“I am delighted to be joining the country’s foremost user led disabled people’s organisation at such an exciting stage in its development.  Disability Rights UK is working hard to expand its reach to all disabled people, and people with long term health conditions, and ensure it is their lived experiences which influence policy change.

“I am looking forward to working with the trustees and staff team and building on the organisation’s achievements to date.”

Find out more here.

Typhoo and EFDS tea-m up in 2017 to support disabled athletes

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Typhoo and the national charity the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) have teamed up again in 2017 to provide disabled athletes with more sporting opportunities to compete across England. It will be the third year that Typhoo will add an extra ‘OO’ to the National Junior Athletics Championships and nine regional qualifiers, aiming to increase the number of disabled people in athletics.

Every year 1400 disabled athletes take part in this particular athletics programme across England. In 2017, the tea company is brewing up again with EFDS’s events programme to ensure more disabled athletes have access to local and national competition.

Disabled athletes will be part of the regional qualifiers that lead to the Typhoo National Junior Athletics Championships climax on 1-2 July. Over 200 12-20 year olds will take part at Warwick Athletics Stadium, where spectators can spot future stars among competitors.

Somnath Saha, CEO of Typhoo Tea, said:

“Sports unites people and, at Typhoo, bringing communities together is an important part of what we do. Supporting the EFDS again this year, we look forward to providing more opportunities for young disabled people to compete at a high level as part of our ongoing Sports for All programme.”

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS, said:

“It is fantastic to be working with Typhoo for a third year. This is a much-loved programme and every year we enjoy seeing how many people get involved in this athletics programme, whether taking part or volunteering. Typhoo’s support means we can ensure more disabled people can reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.”

For over 25 years, the national event has provided thousands of young disabled athletes with the opportunity to develop their talent and compete against others from across the country. The full track and field programme means athletes with a wide range of impairments can take part- something, which many events do not regularly offer.

Many elite disabled athletes began their golden careers at the national event. Paralympians Hannah Cockroft, Hollie Arnold, Shelly Woods and Aled Davies were once junior participants who moved up the ranks to become world-class athletes.

Teams of dedicated volunteers deliver regional events, which drive the athletes’ ambition to qualify at the nationals. This makes it highly competitive for the team trophy at the national event. Also supporting the event is the Lions Club International, a long-term supporter of the junior athletics programme who continually give up their time and energy to raise funds.

Regional events begin in April across the English regions. More information about the Typhoo Regional and National Championships will be available on EFDS’s website. Find the regional events here.

Visit our information in your local area page to find out how you can get active near you.

Everybody active, every day: two years on

Wednesday 18 April 2017

This report provides a progress update on the national physical activity framework for England. The review focuses on the four areas of action within the framework: creating an active society; creating networks of professional expertise; creating the right spaces; and scaling up interventions. Report

Physical inactivity remains one of the top ten causes of disease and disability in England and is responsible for one in six deaths in the UK; the same number as smoking.

This report draws on the various different factors that contribute to the UK’s physical inactivity rates, and provides an update on the national physical activity framework. The report discusses the significant inequalities between different demographic groups, including disability, age, gender and race.

The review considered adoption and progress on the five key opportunities for local areas highlighted in the framework:

  • teach every child to enjoy, value and have the skills to be active every day
  • create safe and attractive environments where everyone can walk or cycle, regardless of age or disability
  • make ‘every contact count’ for professionals and volunteers to encourage active lives
  • lead by example in every public sector workspace
  • evaluate and share the findings so we are learning more about what works

There is acknowledgement of the potential for greater use of national and local levers to integrate knowledge and skills to support activity within and across the career development course of professionals and volunteers, especially those working with the most inactive groups (e.g. those with health issues or disabilities, older people), to make every contact count.

Sport England has partnered with a number of disability sector organisations to support more disabled people into sport and physical activity. These investments will also be looking to understand more about the behaviours and needs of disabled people to become or continue to be active and evaluations will focus on individual and community outcomes.

Sport England’s Inclusive Sport investment was designed give disabled people aged 14+ more opportunities to take part in sport. In developing the fund they recognised that disabled people were not one homogenous group, but people with different ages, interests, abilities, and attitudes. This has also recognised the need to attract a range of partnerships bringing together experts from different sectors to work with Sport England and invest to create a mix of inclusive and dedicated sporting opportunities. In 2014 they announced that the second round of this programme was going to invest over £8 million into 44 two and three year projects across the country, bringing the total invested through Inclusive Sport to over £18 million since 2012. Over 32,000 disabled people have taken part in activity through this investment in round two, resulting in 380,000 individual attendances; this will increase with some of the projects still having 18 months of delivery left. Many of the projects have received awards, accolades and recognition for their innovative work.

The report highlights the investment from Sport England in Get Yourself Active and mentions success that the programme has had so far (see page 26).

Read the report Everybody Active, Every Day: Two years on.

Aspire announces GLL and LCIL as first partners to lead InstructAbility

Tuesday 18 April 2017

GLL, the UK’s largest leisure charitable social enterprise which has pioneered new ways of delivering and investing in community sport, leisure and cultural services, is the first leisure operator to lead the InstructAbility scheme at a local level.

Dorit Chomer, disabled instructor at GLL Botwell Green

The project, delivered in partnership with YMCA Training and funded by Sport England, enables disabled people to become fitness professionals. The London-based course will start in June at Poplar Baths Leisure Centre, with qualified gym instructors taking up placements across various GLL leisure facilities to support inclusive community engagement.

Katie Ellis, National Community Engagement Manager at GLL says,

“This seems like a natural development for GLL which has offered placements to InstructAbility students since the scheme’s inception in 2011. The partnership with Aspire and the opportunity to lead the InstructAbility Programme, links with GLL’s commitment to equality and diversity, and supports the aims of our new National Inclusion and Access Forum.”

Following hot on the heels of GLL, is the Leicester Centre for Integrated Living, with its InstructAbility Programme due to run at the Peepul Enterprise Centre, supported by ‘Choice International’.

Daniel Ball, Sports Broker Coordinator for LCIL, said,

“We are really looking forward to starting the programme in July and urge disabled people to apply for a chance to be selected for this free scheme. This is a great opportunity for disabled people to gain professional training and qualifications, whilst also supporting others in the local community to get active. All the local leisure operators are on board and keen to offer placements to newly qualified instructors. Creating a local workforce that understands fitness and disability from a personal perspective will also complement our work with Disability Rights UK and the ‘Get Yourself Active’ project in Leicester.”

Hilary Farmiloe, who manages the national InstructAbility Programme at Aspire, is keen to see the programme embedded within organisations that understand their local communities. She says,

“Organisations such as GLL and LCIL are best placed to lead the project for local people in their area and link it to other employment, physical activity and health initiatives for disabled people.”

Aspire is due to announce further courses run in partnership with local organisations in 2017 and is also encouraging parties such as leisure operators, health organisations and disability charities that would like to lead the programme in their area to get in touch. Disabled people who wish to apply for a course can get further details on the website

Rojimon Cherian, visually impaired instructor employed at GLL Parkside Pools

On Wednesday 26 April 2017 Choice Unlimited will team up with Get Yourself Active partner LCIL to host a UK wide roadshow on independent living and is the first of its kind nationally. Find out more.


You are invited to NOW Dance Festival, Cheshire

Tuesday 18 April 2017

NOW Dance Festival is an annual celebration of Dance in Cheshire.  The Festival provides a platform for community dance groups, dance in education, student dancers and professional artists.

Building on the success of last year, Now Dance Festival 2017 will be divided in to three parts: daytime workshops and performances; the launch of a conversation surrounding the creative case for cultural diversity in dance and an evening dance platform.

NOW Dance is about bringing people together, celebrating the potential and commitment to dance in Cheshire, and providing opportunities for much needed debate and conversation.   NOW Dance is delivered in partnership between Cheshire Dance and the University of Chester and supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Arts Council England.

Date: Thursday 4th May 2017

Format of the Day


10.45am-12.15pm, workshops / sharing

  • 45am-11.45am An inclusive dance workshop for Cheshire Dance Community Groups, Fallen Angels Dance Theatre’s Chester group and University of Chester Students
  • 45am-12.15pm Some of the participant groups will celebrate their work by sharing their pieces with other groups and participants.


6.00pm-6.45pm Cultural Diversity Debate

  • Open to dance artists/professionals, HE staff and students and anyone interested in cultural diversity in dance
  • A selected panel will engage with attendees in a discussion surrounding dance and cultural diversity in the Northwest that will lead to future conversations and to affect positive change for dance in the Northwest

6.45- 7.15pm Drinks / Nibbles

7.15pm-8.45pm Performance Platform

  • Performances from DOPE Groups, Homegrown Groups, Chester University Groups, Sir John Deane’s Groups, Iselin Brogeland, Ella Performs as well as 2 dance film by Chysalis and Jo Cork
  • Open to the public.  £5 (£4 concessions) Tickets available on the door.
  • Please email to reserve a ticket.

This event is part of DanceFEST!

Throughout the month of May the studios at Kingsway will be jam-packed with fabulous workshops, performances and residencies for you all to participate in.

Please contact to book onto any of the workshops as there are limited spaces available.

For more information on events that might be happening near you click here.

Right to be active and well is a human right for disabled people; a call for action!

Thursday 13 April 2017

Get Yourself Active volunteer, Iyiola Olafimihan, shares his thoughts on the importance of recognising the staggering inequalities faced by disabled people today when developing wellbeing and physical activity opportunities, and how this connects to the latest Equality and Human Rights Commission report

2012 Paralympics Games was a sort of nadir for disabled sports women and men in this country.  Suddenly the public and mainstream was introduced to spectacular performances by “super humans” who were basically doing their best to represent their countries just like their non-disabled peers did a few weeks prior to their event. While the feel-good feeling lasted, disabled people generally had a respite from the constant media portrayal of them as weak and economically draining group that only wants to scrounge the benefit system to death!

However, since the utopia year of 2012 disabled people’s quality of life has declined considerably. Commenting on the recent report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) David Isaac, the Commission chair said,

“Progress towards real equality for disabled people over the past twenty years is insufficient and littered with missed opportunities and failures.”

The chair further said,

“Whilst at face value we have traveled far, in reality disabled people are being left behind in society, their life chances remain very poor, and public attitudes have changed very little.”

The Commission’s report covers a few key areas where disabled people are experiencing significant discrimination. These are: a lack of equal opportunities in education and employment; barriers to access to transport, health services and housing; the persistent and widening disability pay gap; deteriorating access to justice; and welfare reforms significantly affecting the already low living standards of disabled people.

The focus of this short article is on disabled people’s disadvantage in accessing physical activities and sport. Research commissioned by Sport Scotland found that in Scotland disabled people are less active, have poorer experiences of physical education in school, and are less likely to participate in sport as adults. Disabled people are also less likely to use leisure facilities. However, when disabled people do take part in sport and exercise, they are almost as likely as others to take part frequently (on 15 or more days per month). Barriers to disabled people’s participation in sports can include negative attitudes and stereotypes, physical inaccessibility and exclusion, pathways into sport, under-representation and wider issues of socioeconomic disadvantage (Sport Scotland, 2016).

The Get Yourself Active project being delivered by Disability Rights UK and partners was specifically set up to address these issues which are not exclusive to Scotland alone. A major outcome of the low participation in physical activity and sport of disabled people, as seen in Scotland and other areas of the UK, is the widening gap of health inequality between disabled people and non-disabled people. England, Wales and Scotland have action plans in place to tackle the obesity crisis, but these do not address the specific needs of disabled people, for whom weight and obesity are a particular problem but who may face barriers to forms of physical activity. Empowering and encouraging equal participation and inclusion of disabled people will help ease the problem of obesity and reduce the gap in health inequality between disabled people and their non-disabled peers.

Last year I had an interesting conversation with a friend who is disabled but active in her local gym about the benefits of regularly exercising and being active. She told me that because of her new found love for exercise and swimming she has become stronger and now has better control over her impairments. She is proud to be able to shop at her local Sainsbury’s and carry her groceries home herself.  The point of her testimony is not the elimination of her impairments or reduction in her benefits but an acknowledgment of the confidence and sense of independence attending the gym regularly has given her.

However, enjoying and using physical activity, leisure and sport provisions depends largely on a transport system that is reliable, accessible and supportive.  Poor access to transport, leisure and other services can affect the community and social life of disabled people, creating a barrier to independence and their enjoyment of day-to-day activities.  Article 30 of the UN Convention on the right of persons with disability reinforces the link between accessing physical activities and sport and independent living. Partner organisations of the Get Yourself Active project are already witnessing the impact the delivery of the project is having on the people they work with and their ability to exercise some right to choose and control their lives.

Despite progress being made by the project and partners there is a realisation that the journey has just begun. Eliminating prejudices and stereotyping that stills exist in society will take a concerted effort between the public sector, County Sport Partnerships, the third sector and the disability organisations to achieve tangible and measurable results for disabled people. When public sector physical activity and sport providers start understanding their public sector equality duty, including their reasonable adjustment obligations under the Equality Act 2010, there will be a change in culture and processes that will hopefully see more disabled people being included in physical activities and sports. Local Authorities and other agencies must also realise that wellbeing and active participation in physical activity and sport is a tangible outcome which disabled people can and should include in their care and support plans and Local Authorities should increase the personal budgets of their disabled clients to accommodate these activities. In the long run society, and especially the NHS, will benefit from a healthy and active disabled population and ultimately see the high cost of health care becoming more manageable.

I have been volunteering one day a week on this project since January 2017 and I can attest to the energy and sincerity of the project’s staff team to advocate for a more inclusive physical activity and sport sector.  This article will not be complete if credit is not given to Sport England and the English Federation of Disability Sport who are doing a lot to encourage the participation of disabled people in physical activity and sport. Disabled people don’t want to be super humans, we just want to be normal and be treated as citizens with rights to access every facet of human endeavour.

Click here for more information on why you should get active and for more information in your local area to help you get active.

Read more about the European Human Rights Commission report.

Experience only comes with time and practice, trying things out and failing sometimes

Tuesday 11 April 2017

This week’s Personal Experience blog comes from Simon from London

I am not sure if I should be blogging about my experiences in sport as even I am not sure if I qualify as disabled or not! I do not consider myself disabled for the condition I am writing about, but the medication I take to keep myself alive certainly has a detrimental effect on my health and ability to exercise, so you make up your own mind.

Simon with the Olympic Torch at the London Aquatic Centre

I contracted Hepatitis B in 1984 and unlike most people I did not clear it. It stayed with me, slowly destroying my liver. In 2001 I started to become unwell and by the end of the year was I unable to walk more than a few feet. The toxins building up in my body meant that I wasn’t able to think rationally. I was constantly cold and had ascites, the build-up of abdominal fluid, so was having fluid drained on an almost daily basis. My muscles had become so depleted that my skin wrinkled around me.

Placed on the organ donor register I had to wait for a liver to become available and to be a match for me. I was lucky; I got the call from the hospital. A liver was available for me. I quickly gathered what I needed and was transferred to hospital.

I received a perfect match. I was told that my donor’s liver had immunity to Hep B either because my donor had acquired Hep B and recovered or he had been vaccinated.

Recovery was quicker than I expected. I stayed in King’s Hospital for two weeks and then went to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton where I lived at the time. A week and a half later I was home. I was still weak from the year I had lived with a poorly functioning liver and the effects of the operation, but with a strong new liver I was now able to get about and repair the damage previously done to my body.

I lived one block from the seafront so I would walk each day to the sea and back. A little later I reached the first peer, a week later I could reach the second peer. It was time to get a bit more active so I rode my bike and got in to the swimming pool.

I had heard of the British Transplant Games before my transplant and knew that if I received a transplant I would want to enter them. They are annual games open to anyone who has received an organ transplant. Starting in 1978 in Portsmouth, they have continued annually ever since.

Kings team winning swimming relay at the British Games

My first games were in Norwich 2004. Competitors are allowed to enter five events, each competing for their hospital team. I chose a 20 km bike ride and four swimming events. Medals are allocated in 10-year age groups. I came last in the cycling but won gold in the backstroke. I was amazed and looking back now, as a more experienced athlete, even more amazed, as I was completely new to competitive swimming, having only swum in competitions while at school.

A few months later I received a letter informing me I had been selected to join the British Team at the World Transplant Games in London, Ontario Canada in 2005. Now some serious training had to start.

I was lucky that I could train at Central YMCA and had a great coach who helped me with starts and turns (the fastest part of any race). He entered me into a North London Masters swimming competition as I needed competition race experience before entering the World Games.

In my first race at the North London Masters my goggles filled up with water as I dived in and my trunks came halfway down my bum with the force of the dive. Two good lessons learnt! Always tighten goggles and tie up trunks, thankfully neither has happened in a race again.

For the Games in London, Ontario I had entered a 200 metres freestyle which was my first race. I went out far too fast and by the third length lactate had built up so much I felt I couldn’t carry on but had the final 50 metres to finish. I gave up with the tumble on the turn and slowly came in last. But another lesson learnt.

My other races went without success; I was becoming despondent. To come all this way and to have trained so hard to not get a medal was unthinkable. Everything was left to the last race: the 100 metres backstroke. I had to give it everything but I knew now not to give everything in the first length and to leave something for the finish. When I looked up I couldn’t believe it. Third. A bronze medal! Something to take home! I was so pleased. To get a medal at my first World Games, whatever the colour, to me it was gold. Since my first World Games I have competed at four more World Transplant Games in Bangkok, Gold Coast, Gothenburg and Durban each time winning at least one gold medal.

British Team at the European Games in Krakaw

I now look back on Canada and I realise how inexperienced I was, but experience only comes with time and practice, trying things out and failing sometimes. Training is often a hard slog but when I have a competition to aim for it makes the training worthwhile.

Without competitions, I would not swim half as much and without the training I wouldn’t be as fit as I am. I am not saying I am super fit. The medication I take to stop organ rejection takes its toll on my muscles and they ache more than they should, so I have to train to my ability, not over doing it. Avoiding injuries is important, over-training and getting an injury or an infection may mean many days or weeks out of the pool and it takes time to regain strength and stamina after a break. So, continuous is always best.

Simon with Gold and Silver in Durban World Games

I do feel that the advantage of training is that it keeps my general health good. There is no way of proving the benefits, but 15 years on from my transplant I seem to be fit and healthy for someone approaching 60. I have learnt that you can only be fit for purpose; I am fit to swim but if I do some other form of exercise I get muscle pulls or strains so it is a balance to be fit for competitions but also fit for life. Keeping supple, doing yoga, doing stretches, doing circuit training, doing simple other things can easily be forgotten when concentrating on one thing, but to be fit for life to avoid as many of the modern-day health problems has to be a priority for me.

My current training is in preparation for this year’s World Transplant Games in Malaga, Spain at the end of June. By the time of the games I will be a “young” 60 in the 60-69 age group and I am aiming for gold again! Although the World Transplant Games are supported by the Olympic Federation and we compete as the National Team for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we do not get any government or lottery funding. All team members and the support staff have to raise their own funds to cover the cost of games registration, transport to games, accommodation and living costs while at the games as well as training costs and even buying our own UK team kit. Sometimes fundraising can be harder than the training! But it is always worth it as it a fantastic way of promoting the Organ Donor Register. Each time I race I race in honour not only of my donor, but of all organ donors who give the gift of life.

To sponsor Simon to get to the World Transplant Games this year click here:

To find out more about Organ Donation or to add your name to the register click here:

If you would like to share your story please get in touch with us.

The Leadership Academy is recruiting again for the 2017-18 cohort

Thursday 6 April 2017

Sign up now to make take advantage of the early bird prices – only a limited number of places available.

The Leadership Academy Programme is a career development programme for people in employment living with a disability or health condition. This bespoke programme will equip participants with the tools to make the transitions to leadership positions.

Watch our short video of mentors and delegates who previously attended the Leadership Academy Programme.

Click here to download the Leadership Academy Programme flyer.

If you have any questions or to register your interest please contact our Leadership Academy Executive, Katrina Morris at

Click here for more information.

Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training awareness week: Communities reaping benefits of active lives

Thursday 6 April 2017

Over the next week, from 6-13 April, join the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) in promoting the value of Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training in communities across England.

Over three years, more than 7,000 people have benefitted from Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training. As a result, tens of thousands of disabled people are leading a more active lifestyle. The programme is reaching its final six months of this funding cycle and the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) is using an awareness week to celebrate the successes so far.

Support more disabled people to lead active lives in your community

From Thursday 6 April, EFDS will be sharing stories, videos and more from Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training on Twitter and Facebook. Each day, the stories will focus on how the training has made a real difference to disabled people, volunteers, support workers, community organisations and healthcare professionals.

How you can get involved

  • Individuals and organisations can show their support by signing up to our Thunderclap. With your help, we can blast the important training message across social media on Thursday 13 April.
  • Share our stories on social media using the programme hashtag #AK4A
  • Perhaps you have taken part in a workshop. Share your stories with us – it would be great to know more!
  • Sign up for a workshop using the contact information below.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive of EFDS, said:

“EFDS exists to make active lives possible for disabled people so we’re really keen to get more people in every community feeling confident and skilled at including everyone in activities. The Inclusive Community Training is a unique opportunity to up-skill those who are at the heart of our local communities.

“There are many people working or volunteering in local areas, who would benefit from the additional knowledge that this training provides. They often play a major role in influencing more disabled people to be active, whether in their own groups or by setting up new sessions. This week puts a spotlight on the tremendous opportunities available around the country.”

More information

The Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training Programme is a unique opportunity that improves knowledge, competence and confidence of those that work and support disabled people in delivering sport-based activities. It is aimed at people or organisations that represent the community, have direct access or contact with disabled people or have the opportunity to introduce physical activity and sport to disabled people.

The training consists of a three-hour practical workshop, supported by online materials and costs a maximum of £10 per participant, although subsidies may apply.

To find out about workshops in your area or to arrange one yourself, email or telephone 01509 227751.


Football for Wellbeing and Recovery, Peterborough

Thursday 6 April 2017

Football can provide an essential element in the recovery and wellbeing of individuals with mental health conditions, their families and carers.

Each Wednesday from 2pm to 3pm Inspire Peterborough meet at Nene Valley Community Centre, Riverside Pavilion, Candy Street, Woodston, Peterborough, PE2 9RE, to play 5 aside football.

We have both males and females participating and all levels of experience are welcome to just turn up and join us, and it’s only £2 per person.

Register now at

For more information on events that might be happening near you click here.