Get yourself active blog

Disabled Man hand cycled the coastline of England in 27 days – The Robert Groves Story

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Robert Groves is a disabled man with a mission: to fight preconceived ideas of what is possible for someone who is paralysed below the waist, and raise awareness about many societal issues including climate change and the environment.

As a former body builder, cyclist and health club owner, I was a very active person. However, when an accident eleven years ago resulted in me becoming partially paralysed I thought my days of being active were behind me.

When I first became paralysed I didn’t leave the house for three years. I didn’t want to even sit in a wheelchair – I’d throw it against a wall if anyone brought it near! It was only when a friend tricked me into going to the London Paralympics (by telling me we were going fishing) that I saw other people like me.

It was after seeing Karen Darke cross the finish line hand-cycling that really motivated me. At this point in my life I was 17 stone and in a dark place. I wanted to escape the wheelchair and the bike gave me that freedom and independence. I’d always been more of an endurance athlete and wanted to get back out and see places I’d never seen. So, in 2014 I got a hand-cycle and never looked back.

Before embarking on my latest challenge I have hand-cycled from London to Brighton; completed a 24 hour endurance race at Thruxton Motor Circuit in which I qualified for a race across America in 2017, Ride100. I have also hand-cycled from Scotland to London (600 miles) in 5 days, raising £12,000 for charity.

My latest challenge was hand-cycling the coastline of England (2,500 miles) in just 27 days. I did this to demonstrate what disabled people can do and raise awareness of our dying oceans. My original plan was to finish and be greeted by the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street and hand over a petition about the need to teach climate change as a compulsory subject in schools in England. However because of security reasons I had to finish the race at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, along with the other cyclists who joined me for the last section of my tour. Unknown and unaware to me, collecting and getting people to sign the petition (over 100.000 people signed the petition) became a political statement. I just wanted to show what people can do, how disabled and non-disabled people can use the roads and can ride alongside each other and show the damage that is being done to the nation’s coastline.

My latest adventure included highs and lows. The journey which started in Brighton pier on 2 July took me through the beautiful mountains of Snowdonia and all the way to Blackpool. I met many people along the way including an 8 year old boy Jack whose father flew him from Hong King to take part in the ride. Some people on the roads thought I was a geek in a fancy bike, despite the number plate on the back of the bike which described me as a disabled person. Although I don’t like the sign drawing attention to the fact I’m disabled, it is there for my protection. This however did not stop some motorist throwing a can of coke at me whichended up with me in a ditch. Other lows were tyre punctures, cars almost running me off the road, people insulting me and my computer system malfunctioning because it got soaked in rain.

Despite this I love hand cycling. It gives me my independence back, full control and the ability to go wherever I want to go. I now have the freedom that the wheelchair doesn’t give me. I loved the school visits too. I went to one school and saw a young boy about seven or eight years’ old who was in a wheelchair. His eyes lit up when he saw me and he was racing around alongside my hand cycle. His school is even fundraising now for him to get a hand cycle like mine. That’s the really rewarding side of what I did. It’s been about showing what disabled people can do. That you can get active. That you can have hope.

You really need to know what you are doing before embarking on challenges like this. I was a nutritionist at a health club for seventeen years. Your nutrition should always be the starting point – good healthy food that can develop your muscles. I was a member of a mainstream cycle club for three years. I learned a lot there in terms of road sense. You learn about pot holes, T-junctions, traffic, lorries etc. and how to become more confident on the road.

Although I did not get to meet the PM, the 109,000 signatures that I collected were delivered by UPS to the Prime Minister. My success has evidenced what disabled people can achieve alongside their non-disabled peers. Robert knew he achieved his success with support from non-disabled people and organisations like Stoke Mandeville and Halfords who raised thousands of Pounds along the way.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me either. At 61 I am already planning my next adventures, including a cycle ride from Washington DC to Los Angeles – almost 3,000 miles. Dover to Germany and possibly doing things in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and New Zealand. I’d love to visit some Asian countries too. And I have a book coming out next year called One Man, One Bike.

Parallel London is the world’s first fully inclusive mass participation event, with something for everyone, no matter what your ability.

Patrick narrowly misses out on World Championship medal

BORDERS Boccia player Patrick Wilson has narrowly missed out on a medal at the World Championships in Spain. The 21-year-old finished fourth in the hotly contested BC3 category.Patrick’s fourth place has elevated his official ranking to sixth in the world. 

The Peebles player is hoping to climb even higher by getting onto the podium when he flies out to the World Open in America later this month and also at the European Championships in Portugal in October. 

Patrick, who has cerebral palsy, has been playing Boccia since 2011 and he has already competed in two World Championships, numerous World Opens and European Championships as well as the Paralympics in Rio last year.

For more on the story click here


An Active Inclusive Capital: Supporting deaf and disabled Londoners to be physically active throughout the capital 

Friday 25 August 2017

An Active Inclusive Capital sets out a strategic framework to support deaf and disabled Londoners to become as physically active as non-disabled people in the capital.

Beginning with a platform of targeted activities to embed consideration of the needs of deaf and disabled Londoners into physical activity and sport commissioning, An Active Inclusive Capital proposes four strategic priority areas to better enable deaf and disabled Londoners to play a full part in the development of physical activity and sport:

  1. Establish deaf and disabled people as central to the development of physical activity and sport policies, programmes and delivery

  2. Build and maintain collaboration between organisations inside and outside of sport to reach more deaf and disabled people and inspire increased levels of physical activity

  3. Ensure organisations are supported and encouraged to create and deliver inclusive activities

  4. Develop a more representative, motivation and well-trained workforce

Find out more and download An Active Inclusive Capital here

Call for disabled Londoners to shape a more diverse future for football

The London Football Association (LFA) is giving disabled Londoners a unique opportunity to have their say in shaping a more diverse future for football in the capital following a transformational overhaul of its Board.

As the largest of the County Football Associations, the LFA is inviting applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply for a range of new Non-Executive Board positions to ensure that London’s football community provides greater representation of the communities it serves.  The move, which follows The FA’s own governance initiative earlier this year, will also help the LFA develop a more inclusive and sustainable future for the sport in the city.

The LFA’s corporate governance reforms comply with Sport England’s Code for Sports Governance, which was launched in May 2017 to ensure the highest levels of transparency are present in all sports.

The new LFA positions include three independent Non-Executive Directors, six Football / Sport Directors and one Finance & Risk Director. They will act as ‘Champions of Business’ through their diverse skills, experience and backgrounds, applying their independent expertise to the LFA Board. Applications should be sent to by 5pm on 10 September 2017.

To find out more, or to apply for an independent Non-Executive Board position with the LFA, click here or Twitter @LondonFA.


Get Yourself Active Regional Events

Friday 25 August 2017

Disability Rights UK will be running a series of learning events across the country this autumn to share the experiences and insight so far on one of its pilot programmes, Get Yourself Active (GYA).

The key aim of the programme is to increase participation of disabled people in physical activity and we do this by working with local partners from disabled people’s user led organisations, social care, health and the sport sector. The impact of the project has been found through key outcomes relating to increased wellbeing, increased confidence and greater independence for personal budget recipients and disabled people more generally. We are working closely with our partners across the country to achieve this.

The events will be an opportunity to…

  • Listen to presentations from GYA partners about their experience of coproducing better approaches to physical activity opportunities with and for disabled people
  • Learn about our key findings from evaluation and research carried out in partnership with OPM and the University of Birmingham
  • Discuss how you might be involved in developing these approaches locally and nationally with colleagues from different sectors

The events are invite only, so if you feel that this is relevant to you and to get more information or to register your interest please contact Leanne Wightman.




Horse Riding – An Activity for All

An East Yorkshire riding school has become the latest riding establishment to sign up to a national scheme encouraging more disabled people to take up horse riding.

Oxmardyke Equestrian Centre, based on the outskirts of Gilberdyke, has received the seal of approval to become an Accessibility Mark accredited centre.

Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

The centre prides itself on its friendly and professional atmosphere and they offer a high standard of teaching from British Horse Society qualified riding instructors. They provide lessons on horses and ponies to suit all levels and abilities.

Accessibility Mark supports the centre’s long held belief that horse riding is an activity that can be enjoyed by all. The centre’s work with children with special needs from a local school was one of the inspirations behind their application for the scheme.

With fantastic indoor and outdoor facilities, Oxmardyke Equestrian Centre is the perfect venue to enjoy riding all year round.

Centre owner Rachel Kirby said: “Meeting all the criteria set out by RDA to be approved as an Accessibility Mark centre reaffirms the work we were already doing.

“The training and support helps to ensure the lessons we provide our disabled riders are constructive and enjoyable.

“Horse riding has many benefits for both a person’s mental and physical well-being, and we are delighted to be able to officially expand our services to anyone who feels they would like to come along and have a go.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

There are currently 39 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

There are currently 39 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

For more information contact Jacqueline Spouge or Tim Smith at TSM on 01724 784600

EFDS resources take new people on road to an active lifestyle

Thursday 17 August 2017

Today the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) reveals a new resource to support those who are new to sport or want to assist disabled people on how to get more active. Produced in partnership with County Sports Partnership Network, Disability Rights UK and Sport England, the resource is a guideline to where to start, where to find out more and who to contact on the road to being active.

EFDS is aware from previous research that one barrier can be awareness of opportunities or places to go to find out more. Despite the increase in various activities around the country, there continues to be fear factors around whether it would be accessible or suitable for disabled individuals.

With this in mind, EFDS has created two resources. The first is for people supporting disabled people to be active, for example, local charities or healthcare. The second is similar but for those taking part in the Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training. The roadmap helps people to access some of the right contacts, places and resources.

Ray Ashley, Head of Engagement at EFDS, said:

“When supporting disabled people to be active, we understand there is a lot to learn and find out. Knowing where to start can be tricky because there are many organisations, opportunities and resources out there. These resources can help to direct more people, who may have little knowledge on sport or active recreation, in a quick and easy way. We also hope they also assist more disabled people to reap the huge benefits of being active.”

Chloe Studley, Active Kids for All Programme Manager, said:

“Through the Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training, we are privileged to meet so many people who want to make a difference in their own work or their communities. However, we are very aware that some attendees finish the training with lots of enthusiasm but often need to refer to their notes, so this works well as that reference guide.”

Leanne Wightman, Get Yourself Active Project Manager at Disability Rights UK, said:

“At Disability Rights UK we are well aware of the many challenges disabled people face when trying to participate equally in society. Being active is an important part of this but disabled people have told us that it’s hard to know where to start on the journey to being more active and living a good life. It is important that disabled people and their supporters have access to the right information and guidance about local opportunities to be active as well as being able to physically access these opportunities. The roadmap is great for individuals, groups and organisations who are just starting out on their journey into the world of physical activity and sport and who need a nudge in the right direction.”

Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England, said:

“We are pleased to help the English Federation of Disability Sport realise their vision of enabling disabled people to be active for life. Currently a disabled person is only half as likely to play sport as a non-disabled person. We believe these new resources will enable greater numbers of disabled people to become active, and enjoy sport and physical activity as a practical, healthy and fun lifestyle choice.”

Statistics continually show low numbers of active disabled people – still half as likely to be active as non-disabled people. These resources follow a range of guides to engagement released in December 2016, including a short animation film to access top tips.

To download EFDS roadmap to supporting more disabled people to be active visit Resources page on EFDS website.

For more information, please visit

The Get Yourself Active team is looking for feedback on its website.

Gathering the Evidence: Making Personal Budgets Work for All

Thursday 17 August 2017

Think Local Act Personal has released Gathering the Evidence: Making Personal Budgets Work for All. The report sets out a direction for improving the evidence base for personal budgets.

The National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on Personalised Commissioning in Adult Social Care, published in March 2016, drew attention to the lack of a coherent evidence base for the impact of personal budgets. Gathering the Evidence addresses this ‘evidence challenge’ by working with colleagues from across the care and support sector, including people with lived experience, and experts in research and evaluation.

The key conclusions are that the impact of personal budgets must be viewed within the broad context of personalisation and wider system transformation. This requires a plurality of approaches to gathering evidence, whilst preserving a focus on the experience and insights of people receiving care and support and carers as central to evaluation. The overarching purpose of gathering and using evidence is to make sure that personal budgets work for all. With that purpose at the forefront the main themes arising from our work are that:

• More use could and should be made of the existing comparative data and evidence in order to shed light on the reasons for variation in outcomes and experience.

• As much as possible, evidence should be generated from mainstream systems, using routine and commonly collected data.

• The development of any new measures and approaches to research and evaluation should be informed by people with lived experience and carers.

• There is considerable scope for improving sharing of evidence of what works best and applying this in practice more consistently.

• The development of evidence should embrace the ambition to achieve integrated care and support for people reflecting the reality of people’s lives rather than service boundaries.

• There is a need to develop a coherent, proportionate and sustainable longer term strategy for gauging the impact of personal budgets (including well conducted evaluations in areas of concern), which will require leadership from the Department of Health, in partnership with the care and support sector.

Read the full report here. 


Social workers needed to support with health and wellbeing research and receive a £25 gift voucher

Thursday 17 August 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 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 at a later date 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 You will receive a £25 gift voucher for participating in this research.

Parkrun Collaboration

Thursday 17 August 2017

Join Parkrun and Parallel London on Saturday 19th August at Southwark Park, London for a fully accessible 5k walk, jog or run.

This is a great training opportunity before 3rd September as both parkrun and Parallel volunteers will be on hand to help in any way.

Like all parkruns it is completely free, you just need to register on their website.

Register here

Date: Saturday 19 August 2017

Time: 09:00 am

Location: Southwark Park, London, SE16 2UE

There are accessible toilets within a 7 minute walk from Southwark Park and it starts at 9am on the day. For more information on transport, the course, starting point, safety and accessibility information please email us.

Find out more about Parallel London.

Achieving fitness, strength and independence through personalised personal training sessions – Georgina’s story

Tuesday 8 August 2017

This week’s personal experience blog is written by Georgina and her personal trainer and rehabilitation therapist, Joe.

Hi, my name is Georgina and I am 33 years old. This blog is written with my specialist personal trainer and rehabilitation therapist Joe to demonstrate how you can live with stroke and start regaining your strength, independence and confidence working with an ally in an inclusive gym. We have written this blog invite readers into my journey from living without a disability or impairment to now living with a stroke and my determination to regain some of my strength and vigour to live life as fully as I can. This blog is also written in a conversational way with Joe and I taking turns to explain what a session looks like working out in Breaking Barriers inclusive gym in Buckinghamshire.

Having lived for 33 years without a disability or major health condition, working as a sales manager in a successful London based company, exercising and going to the gym regularly, life took a dramatic turn for me in 2015 when I was struck with a number of strokes including a massive stroke that left me with physical and cognitive impairments.

I didn’t have movement on my left side, and my speech was affected. I needed help to do day-to-day tasks, and support from my family to manage through the day. I had some rehabilitation intervention on the NHS and I went home to live with my family in Buckinghamshire. When my NHS rehabilitation ended, I was looking to find ways to keep getting better physically and regain some measure of independence. I joined a gym, and began working with Breaking Barriers specialist personal trainer and rehabilitation therapist Joe Harman.

So now I want to invite Joe into this conversation and explain how specialist personalised training sessions can help people like me regain their strength and independence…

Joe: Specialist personal training after physical or neurological injury or illness, involves supporting people with injuries or disabilities in fitness based sessions, working one-to-one with a person to help them work toward their fitness goals. Sessions might focus on building up overall strength, balance, walking abilities, core or limb strength, mobility, flexibility, or reducing aches, pain and discomfort. Specialist based personal training is very different to traditional personal training. Some sessions are rehabilitation and recovery focused; these can be slow paced, involving stretches, or repetitive exercises, and may focus on building up a specific physical ability such as improving use of an arm, or hand as needed. Other sessions might involve more general full body movement or fitness challenges, adapting fitness activities such as using battle ropes or TRX to help clients build up overall physical activity and fitness levels.

Georgina: I work with Joe twice a week in my specialist personal training sessions, as well as having physiotherapy. I also have sports massage with Breaking Barriers which helps. My physiotherapist and my personal trainer liaise together to support me. The specialist personal training sessions are one-to-one, in the Breaking Barriers private gym. I have sessions focused on the use of my leg, and arm and building up my strength. Joe supports me to use a variety of gym equipment, including a TRX, bike, step, weight machines, and a specialist rehabilitation machine that I sit on and gets me using my arms and legs, and pushes me further every time, showing me my progress. Joe takes photos and videos to help me and my family see my progress which is really useful. This way I can see myself getting stronger and being able to move my arm with the kind of control I didn’t have a year ago.

Joe: Specialist personal training sessions can take place at a private gym, at people’s homes, in the park, or at a local gym. Training sessions can vary depending on what the client’s goals are and what each session will focus on. The focus could be on using and strengthening arms one week, using and strengthening legs the next week, or walking and balance the following week. We try to change the session plans every time, to make it fun and interesting but also to make it challenging, and for clients to feel they have been able to achieve more than they thought possible. At the Breaking Barriers gym we can put on music or disco lights if our clients want, to tailor it and make it as fun as possible! Exercise and physical activity can be fun for everyone!

Georgina: I enjoy my personal training sessions because they are personalised which I prefer to going to work out in a large gym. I enjoy the lights and music, but also just working out in my own space. Joe is very patient and encouraging with me, and I am making progress towards my goals. Joe experienced a serious injury himself and was therefore very empathetic, which helps when I am working with him as I feel he understands. Anything on my left side feels really hard and I have to work much harder on this side to keep moving. I keep positive though with Joe’s help, and keep going with the exercises he asks me to do. I remind myself that I am doing okay and I will keep going, and keep working hard to help my recovery, and help me stay physically active. I always feel better after I have had a session. I feel more confident and I have fun and leave the session in a good mood, after working hard!

Joe: Georgina is doing an amazing job – she stays positive and focuses on working hard. I know the sessions can be tough, because 7 years ago I went through the same process after a serious road accident. I understand what it can be like when a limb isn’t what it used to be or if you feel
more tired, or have pain. I know how hard you have to work to regain some of your strength and I help my clients do the same. Overcoming injury or finding ways to get physically active with physical disabilities can be difficult if you are not fully supported in an inclusive way. If you are in this situation consider getting support from a specialist personal trainer who understands and is trained in working with disability and injury and can help work with you toward your fitness goals. Support from a specialist personal trainer can be hugely beneficial and motivating, and can help improve physical and mental health, increase wellbeing and keep you active.

Georgina and Joe have sessions at Breaking Barriers gym, Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire.

Breaking Barriers is based in Bucks, but supports clients in London, Surrey, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, Birmingham and the Midlands.

@breakbarrierpt (twitter)
@breakingbarrierspersonaltrainer (facebook) (website)
@breakingbarrierspt (Instagram) (email)

Disability Sports Coach is recruiting for Community Coaches

Friday 4 August 2017

Coaching vacancies for part-time disability sports coaches at £18k

Disability Sports Coach is currently recruiting for Community Coaches to work across our Community Clubs, LIVE, in schools, colleges and other disability organisations in London. If you hold a valid NGB Level 2 coaching qualification, a Level 3 Personal Training qualification or relevant sports degree, then we would like to hear from you!

Role Overview

  • Part-time (20 hours a week)
  • London & South East
  • £18,000 (pro rata) plus staff bonus scheme
  • Responsible to Sport & Physical Activity Manager
  • Closing Date: 5pm on Monday 14th August 2017

They provide:

  • Training in disability sports and how to adapt sessions for disabled people
  • Other on-going CPD training opportunities
  • Possible progression to development role

Essential criteria:

  • NGB Level 2 coach qualification (any sport), Level 3 Personal Training or relevant sports degree
  • Minimum of 6 months coaching experience and ideally experience of working with disabled people
  • Experience of coaching a range of sports and physical activities
  • Professional, punctual and flexible

Click here for the full Community Coach Applicant Pack

Apply today – Closing date 14th August 2017

To apply, please complete and return the below application form to Hugh Elsegood at

Download the Community Coach Application Form here. 

For more information, please contact Hugh Elsegood on 07772 677259 or email

Care Quality Commission & Disability Rights UK want your feedback!

Friday 4 August 2017

Disability Rights UK has recently entered into a year long partnership with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to gather feedback from disabled people about their experience of health and social care services, via CQC’s ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ initiative.

The CQC would really like to hear from disabled (and non-disabled) people on their experience of using any of the services they regulate, including GP and dentist surgeries; hospitals; services in the home; etc. A full list of these services can be viewed by clicking here.

If you would like to tell the CQC about your experience, positive or negative, of any of the services they regulate, please click here. You can also provide feedback by contacting Disability Rights UK by telephone on 020 7250 8181.

For further information on the DR UK and CQC Partnership, please click here.


Click here for health, social care and disability information.