Get yourself active blog

Reaction to the latest report on the Active Lives Survey by Sport England: Is no change a good thing?

Leo Capella provides his take on the third report from Sport England’s biannual Active Lives Survey. This survey is about people across England doing physical activity from November 2016 to November 2017 and had 200,000 people who responded to it.

These results reported no change in the activity levels of people with disabilities. For instance 43% of people with disabilities are inactive (getting less than 30 minutes moderate to intense physical activity per week) as opposed to 21% of people without disabilities. This statistic fits in with the wider message of the report: No change in the level of activity of adults across England, whether they have disabilities or not.

People walking which is the main form of physical activity for people in England. According to the Active Lives Survey report 18.6 million people walk for leisure and 4.5 million walk for travel.

It could be worse I suppose.

Although the Active Lives Survey is a relatively new one in that its initial results were only released last year there was no fall in the amount of people with disabilities being active. Had there been one it would have flown in the face of the huge amount of activity around disabled people in sport going on across England. In fact over my first three weeks in post I’ve been impressed by just how much activity across England is going on either to help more people with disabilities become more physically active or sports events. This includes the National Junior Para-Swimming Championships that were held on the 17th and 18th of April or an upcoming masterclass in wheelchair ballroom dancing. So there are positives in the report.

However equally the position of people with disabilities could be better though.  The gap in activity between people with one impairment and those with none is currently 13% with the gap in inactivity being 11%. And that gap in inactivity increases the more disabilities a person has. So aside from being on the autistic spectrum I’ve got tinnitus in my right ear which means instead of being part of a group with 33% inactivity I’m part of one with 42% percent level of inactivity which isn’t good. And the inactivity rate rises even higher with three impairments.

So there’s work to be done because there’s a positive case for more people becoming physically active:  The more physical activity you do the more mentally healthy you are.  This is shown by a question in the same survey where people were asked how strongly they agreed to “whether they are satisfied with their life nowadays”. People whether disabled or not who classed as active had an average score of 7.2, compared to people who were fairly in active who had a slightly lower average of 7.0 and people who were classified in active scored a further 0.5 point less meaning they were less mentally healthy.

To conclude we should think of the latest results from the Active Lives Survey as a solid platform to increase levels of participation. Instead of treating them as a case of that time honoured adage: no news is good news.

The fourth Active Lives Survey report will be released in October this year. Hopefully by then we can celebrate an increase in activity levels for people with disabilities instead of just continuing to acknowledge the same increasingly old figure.

In other news:If you’d like to see our views on the results from the previous Active Lives Survey then go here.   

Simone Illger, aged 55 shares her experiences of discovering the benefits of exercise

Thursday 26 April 2018

Our latest personal experiences story at Get Yourself Active comes from Simone Illger, who writes a blog called Flidfit which is about her journey as a disabled person to losing weight and keeping fitter.

I’ve had my disability from birth, caused by a drug that my Mother took for morning sickness – Thalidomide.  It caused unborn babies limbs and internal organs to stop developing.  As a result, I have arms shortened to elbow length with only three fingers on each hand.  My shoulder, knee and hip joints are all affected.

My disabilities have significantly impacted on my mobility.  The fact that I am able to walk at all is surprising, but the mechanics of how I walk requires a huge amount of energy and causes significant pain and discomfort in my hips and lower back.  The problems I have weren’t helped by a complicated ankle injury sustained in a head on car crash in 2002.

I have never enjoyed sports or exercise in any form.  At school, I was forced to participate in games sessions, but they were endured, not enjoyed.  In my twenties, I tried things like step aerobics, but this kind of regimented class exercise just wasn’t my thing.

In 2012 at the age of 49, I set myself a mission of losing some of the additional weight I was carrying.  I am only 4ft 9” and weighed 14 stone.  The extra weight wasn’t helping my mobility at all.

After having lost over 2 stone in a year, I wanted to introduce exercise to speed up the process.

I started gradually, initially with an hours swimming session once a week at a disabled swimming session.  I soon wanted to do more, so booked a session with a personal trainer to explore exercises I was able to do.  I bought myself some small items of exercise equipment and set up a small gym inside my garage at home.  I could exercise regularly without leaving home, whatever the weather – and what’s more, it was free.  I started to exercise for an hour to two hours about 3-4 times a week and became the most physically fit I had ever been in my life by the age of 51.  Although I found it hard to admit, I found the exercise sessions enjoyable.

Over the past 2 years, I have been getting increasing amounts of pain in my lower back and hips.  After MRI and other investigations, it appears that the problems stem from the degeneration of my lower spine caused by my abnormally shaped hip joints.  I don’t have regular ball and socket joints and the mechanics of my walking mean that muscles, tendons and ligaments are being overworked.

Supported by the consultant I am under at the Royal National Orthopeadic Hospital, I decided to try and combat the pain through non-weight bearing exercise rather than with pain killers.  I don’t take any medication on a regular basis and I would really prefer not to.

I have been trying out a special anti-gravity treadmill which is designed so that a percentage of my body weight is supported by an air-filled chamber that my lower body/legs are sealed into.  The chamber is inflated or deflated to varying degrees, so I exercise at 80% of my body weight.  I am able to move without any of the aches and pains I usually get and more importantly, I can keep walking fairly briskly for 30 minutes.

Without access to the treadmill, I struggle to walk for even 5 minutes before I need to rest and stretch my back and I am also prone to over balancing and falls.

I completely understand why people are unwilling to walk or exercise at all if they are in pain – but walking and movement are crucial to helping with that pain and to maintain joint health.  I am building up the muscles that support my whole body structure, developing the under-used muscles to take some of the strain off muscles that are over-used.

I presently walk on the treadmill once a week for 30 minutes and combine that with an hour of prescribed strength training exercise three times a week.  These exercises have been devised for me by the sports therapist at the Pain Clinic that I’ve been attending.  They target specific problem areas – my neck, hips, shoulders and aim to even up muscle imbalances.  Most of the exercises are done sitting on a gym ball or lying on the floor.  Getting on and off the floor is a good exercise in itself for me, but it is getting much easier.

In other news: if you would like to follow in simones’ footsteps and share your story with us then please look at this post for more information on what we’re looking for.   

English Federation of Disability Sport changes name to Activity Alliance

Thursday 26 April 2018

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) is delighted to announce our new name. A first of many milestones in the charity’s 20th anniversary year, from Thursday 26 April 2018 EFDS will be operating as Activity Alliance.

Commenting on the new name, Barry Horne Chief Executive of Activity Alliance said:

“We are the same team with the same passionate focus on disability, inclusion and sport, but with an exciting new name and image. Through our work with amazing people and influential world-renowned activity programmes for disabled people, we know the time is right for us to embrace this change.

“Activity Alliance brings our members, partners and disabled people together to make active lives possible. Collectively, we continue to challenge perceptions and change the reality of disability, inclusion and sport.”

A brand identity has been developed to support the organisation’s new name and wider remit, which is being introduced a few months ahead of the charity’s 20th anniversary in September.

The change follows a thorough strategic review that included research about the charity’s purpose and its impact. As part of the review, the charity carried out stakeholder consultations with staff, member organisations, disabled people and partners.

The feedback consensus was that the original name, ‘English Federation of Disability Sport’ limited the organisation’s potential.

The review concluded that a new direction and wider remit were needed around well-being, activity and health, creating the opportunity for the charity to deliver greater impact for disabled people.

Find more information on Activity Alliance on our refreshed website and (live during 26 April 2018).

In other news: The West Midlands Combined Authority has issued a call for evidence about disability and sport.  

World Snooker Disability Day 2018

Tuesday 24 April 2018

World Snooker Disability Day will once again be staged during the Betfred World Snooker Championship in Sheffield on Wednesday 25th April 2018.

With activities to run throughout the day at the ‘Cue Zone’, situated at the Winter Garden, close to the Crucible Theatre, the event aims to raise awareness of disability snooker and encourage people with disabilities to participate in snooker as either players, fans or officials.

The event is jointly organised by World Snooker and World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS), a body established in 2015 which has to date hosted 13 world disability snooker events across the UK and mainland Europe. The long-term goal for the WDBS is to see snooker return to the Paralympics, at which snooker was one of its founding sports and was held most recently in 1988.

Cue Zone activities

Under the guidance of WPBSA World Snooker coaches Steve Rutter and Ian McAllister, the day will see regular WDBS competitors demonstrating their skills in matches against members of the general public, both in individual and doubles matches.

There will also be a session staged with members of Sheffield Mencap and disability snooker will be featured throughout the day’s BBC coverage, including footage from last month’s Belgian Open in Bruges.


For the second consecutive year World Snooker Disability Day will form part of the #Cue4All initiative organised by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, which aims to promote the inclusive nature of snooker and billiards.

If you cannot make it to the Crucible on the day, you can be part of the celebrations by hosting open days at your club, offering free taster sessions, running snooker challenges, promoting your community snooker sessions and sharing stories on social media about the groups or individuals who access your snooker facilities.

To follow and get involed in the action on Twitter, you can follow or tag in the hashtag #Cue4All so that WPBSA can share your inclusive activities during this year’s Betfred World Championship.

In other news:Free Wheelchair Ballroom Masterclass with World Champion Pawel Karpinksi

Tech4Good Award seeks accessible tech projects

21 April 2018

Digital inclusion charity AbilityNet is on the hunt for inspiring tech projects using tech to transform the lives of disabled people for this year’s Tech4Good Awards.

The AbilityNet Accessibility Award is one of eight categories open for entry as part of the 2018 Tech4Good Awards, organised by AbilityNet and sponsored by BT.

Now in its 8th year, the awards recognise organisations and individuals who create and use technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place.

Past winners of the Accessibility Award include Lifelites, which provides tech equipment and support to children with life-limiting conditions in UK children’s hospices. It was the first ever winner of the Accessibility Award in 2011.

Lifelites CEO Simone Enefer-Doy, said:

“Winning the Accessibility Award was a pivotal moment for us. I realised that we weren’t just a start-up; here we were, being told by our peers that there was something very worthwhile about what we did. It’s helped us to sell our cause to potential funders and has helped us continue to grow and help more children and their families.”

Last year’s winner was Bristol Braille Technology, who have created an affordable Braille e-reader for blind people called Canute, designed with and by the blind community.

Other past winners include Open BionicsWayFindrBarclays Bank and LexAble . They all demonstrate creative ways that tech can change people’s lives.

Entries are judged by an expert panel of judges who have worked across the technology, digital and charity sectors and have the unenviable job of narrowing down 250+ entries to just 28 finalists.

Entries for the Tech4Good Awards close on 8 May. The awards are free to enter and are open to any individual, business, charity, social enterprise or other public body with a base in the UK.

If you would like to enter, visit the Tech4Good website.

In other news: the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has issued a call for evidence about disability and sport – in a bid to get people moving more on a daily basis.THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING ANY EVIDENCE IS FRIDAY 11th MAY.

Re-creating London Marathon 2018 by Iyiola Olafimihan

Friday 20th April 2018

Iyiola is a volunteer on the Get Yourself Active project and here shares his plans on this Sunday London Marathon

I have always wanted to participate in the annual London marathon and this year a group of us wheelchair users are joining in on the fun.

However, we will not be taking the usual routes through the streets of London like the other participants. We plan to do our own version of the marathon by wheeling round a popular huge park near my house.

You may want to ask, why the park? Why not join the thousands of people on the streets of London and become famous! Well, the answer to that is we have never done this before and we wanted to start in a familiar environment. Some of my friends also prefer to start small because they said they don’t have the confidence yet to hand cycle on the streets. We know adequate provision must have been made by the organisers to make the event inclusive but when you have never done it before, I suppose getting yourself active to identify with others in the park is the next best thing to the real thing.

So, I have called up my non-disabled friends and family to join us this Sunday to organise our own London marathon in a park! For me and my friends it will be the first time to participate in an organised event that will keep us active and identify with an international event taking place in our great city. We are not raising funds for any charities (maybe next year if the group are up for it we may) but just doing our thing instead of sitting at home watching others on TV.

We are a bit disorganised this year but if we enjoy it we might just plan 2019 to be better. We might even take to the streets and join others to get active and raise funds for whatever or whoever we want to raise funds for – it could even be to draw attention to an issue if permitted by the organisers.

London marathon in a park, why not? It’s all about getting yourself active.

The London Marathon will be shown on BBC 1 on Sunday 22 April from 8:30am

In other news: Good luck to Anthony and all the other runners taking part in the London Marathon this Sunday.

I’m looking forward to hearing the crowds cheer me on

20th April 2018

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) website features a blog post every Friday throughout the year. This Sunday (22nd April) will see over 50,000 professional and amateur runners take on the London Marathon course. One runner tackling the 26 mile and 385 yard course is 25 year old Anthony Hornby. Today, Anthony tells us how hard he has been training for his second London Marathon and how being active helps his mind stay clear and focused.


Hi I’m Anthony, I’m 25 years old and live in Holyport, Berkshire. I have Oral Dyspraxia and Dyslexia, along with some learning difficulties.

I’ll be running my second London Marathon on Sunday and I’m doing it in aid of SportsAble – a disability sports club that encourages disabled people to be their best at one or many different types of sport. I’m a longstanding member and it’s here that I first gave athletics a go. In fact in the autumn of 2016 the staff at SportsAble encouraged me to take part in the Windsor Half Marathon.

I took to the training plan quite well and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. My finishing time at that event was good, so since then I went on to do other Half Marathons and the London Marathon. My motivation to take part in the London Marathon purely came from finding out that it is one of the world’s marathons to take part in, so I just had to do it and I’m really pleased to be running it again.

I love running, it gives you that freedom to be yourself and to set goals and achieve them. I also enjoy taking part in other sports at SportsAble. I play pool for the club team, I golf and assist our disabled golfers each week, plus I enjoy rifle shooting and since taking this sport on seriously I have become a range officer. I have always been a very sporty individual but rugby is my favourite sport. I play for the Maidenhead Rugby Club, at which I’ve been a member at for a long time.

I really enjoy feeling fit, strong and capable and taking part in these activities helps me maintain that feeling.

It used to be that walking helped my mind stay clear and focused. Whenever I was feeling confused or overwhelmed I would go for a walk. Now I run regularly and I find that it helps me remain calm. It helps me feel in control of my life too and I feel I can do anything.

So, what I began to realise is that playing a sport or running makes me feel fantastic. I do get tired sometimes but I just focus on the goals I am setting and make sure I eat more!

My training for the London Marathon has gone well. I’ve been training with the Maidenhead Athletic Club as some members are also doing it and I’ve run three half marathons over the past couple of months as well.

I’m gearing myself up for the day itself, which I’m really looking forward to now – I really love the atmosphere. I’ve got my running number now and can’t wait to go to the Expo at the ExCel Centre to pick up my running pack.

My goal is to beat last years’ time of 4 hours and 12 minutes. I’m looking forward to hearing the crowds cheer me and the other runners on. My family will be there on the day as well!  They are brilliant at supporting me so it will be great to see them there cheering me on.

I’m also quite active on Twitter, so usually before an event I’ll use social media to connect with people and share my training and results – the support I receive this way is really heart-warming too.

I have several half marathons lined up for the rest of the year, then in the autumn the rugby season starts again so I’ll be focusing on the new season.

My advice to other disabled people wanting to take part in sport or get active is – just give a go. Find a sport that is for you and if you can, join somewhere like SportsAble.

The London Marathon will be shown on BBC 1 on Sunday 22 April from 8:30am. Follow Anthony’s London Marathon journey via his Twitter channel @AnthonyGamerUK.

In other news: Good luck to Anthony and all the other runners taking part in the London Marathon this Sunday. On saturday 16th june the 42nd metro athletics open will be held at mile end stadium. 

Effective Communication: Coaching Deaf People in Sport

Friday 20th April

 On 15th May between 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm a workshop is being held in Peterborough that will enhance Your Communication Skills AND Meet the Needs of Deaf Participants.

Developed in partnership with UK Deaf Sport and the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) this is an interactive workshop delivered by UK Coaching that will help develop your communication skills, so you can fully include deaf people of all ages. It’s very likely that at some point you’ll coach an individual who is deaf. Delivered by coaches who are deaf themselves this workshop will give you the confidence to include them in your sessions alongside your hearing participants. What’s more this workshop will help you develop your non verbal communication skills so your day-to-day coaching sessions will improve.

By the end of the Workshop you will:

  • be aware of deafness and understand the barriers facing deaf people in sport
  • have developed your own communication skills and be able to use them effectively in any coaching session
  • be aware of and understand the pathways for deaf sport to encourage deaf participants to aim high
  • be able to develop an action plan to include deaf people in your coaching session

To Book: Online with Living Sport at

Any Questions: Contact Rebecca Evans on 849929, or 07739 655062

For more information including on how to get to the venue please look at the original article at Inspire Peterborough.

In other news: The FA Level 1 in Coaching Football – Inclusive Course

Free Wheelchair Ballroom Masterclass with World Champion Pawel Karpinksi

Tuesday 17th April 2018

This masterclass will be held from 12-1pm on Wednesday 9th of May at Sadlers Wells, Lilian Baylis Studio. Places are limited, please book your space via 020 7863 8000.

Fusion is the UK’s first inclusive Latin and ballroom dance showcase by disabled and non-disabled artists, presented by Step Change Studios at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio at 8pm on Wednesday 9 May 2018.

Fusion will see wheelchair world dance champion Pawel Karplinski and his dance partner perform together for the first time in the UK. Pawel began dancing at the age of 11. He is passionate about dance and teaching. Pawel has amassed national, European and World championship medals in wheelchair Latin and Ballroom dance.

Step Change Studios are providing a rare opportunity to participate in a free wheelchair ballroom dance masterclass led by Pawel from 12-1pm on 9th May. All ages and abilities welcome.

 In other news:Step Change Studios invite you to attend their first professional showcase.

Goalball UK launches National Schools Competition Programme

17th April 2018

Goalball UK is launching its first National Schools Competition Programme, thanks to an unprecedented funding grant from BBC Children in Need. The grant of nearly £100,000 will support the delivery of after school goalball activities and competitive opportunities for children with visual impairments.


Goalball UK is the national governing body for the only sport specifically created for blind and partially sighted people. They aim to raise the profile of the sport throughout the UK, promote participation at all levels and achieve success on the international stage.

The sport has been awarded a grant of nearly £100,000 to deliver a new National Schools Competition Programme for blind, partially sighted and disadvantaged children and young people.

The programme will work with children aged under 11, all the way up to under 18s, improve coaching within schools and provide competitive opportunities through the new programme.

Mark Winder, Chief Executive Officer of Goalball UK, said: 

“We’re thrilled to receive such a generous grant from BBC Children in Need and can’t wait to get this new programme under way. All too often visually impaired (VI) children and young people struggle to find challenging and enjoyable activities.

“70% of the estimated 25,000 blind and VI children in the UK are in mainstream school. But it is a sad reality that many do not have equal access to sport in school due to their additional needs – isolating them from their peers and denying them the skills, exercise and psychological benefits of team sport.

“We hope this new initiative will go some way to addressing this issue by making goalball accessible to both sighted and VI children in a school setting. As the sport is played with blackout goggles, anyone can participate, allowing VI and non-VI people to compete on an even playing field.”

Mark continues:

“The ambition is to build on after-school engagement to create regional and, eventually, national tournaments so we can give disadvantaged children the chance to compete in world class venues.

“BBC Children in Need is an inspirational charity. I would like to thank them for believing in us and look forward to working with them to transform even more lives.”

Isabel Farnell, Regional Head of the North at BBC Children in Need said:

“It’s fantastic news that we have awarded new funding to projects like Goalball UK. Over the coming months, this project will work with disadvantaged children and young people in the local community to make a tangible and lasting difference to their lives.”

Goalball was originally devised as a rehabilitation programme for blind and partially sighted soldiers returning from World War II.  Since then, the sport has grown in popularity and there are now 11 extra domestic tournaments on the annual Goalball UK event calendar.

For more information about Goalball and the new National Schools Competition Programme, visit Goalball UK website.

In other news: Sense Sport Job Opportunity – Regional Sports Coordinator (London)