Get yourself active blog

Join Swim England’s free Just Swim membership and get the most out of your swimming!

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Swim England launched their Just Swim membership earlier this year, aimed at supporting individuals across the country to get more out of their swimming.

It is free to join as a member and is perfect for anybody focused on a personal swimming goal, looking to improve their technique, or working on their swimming fitness.

If you join Just Swim, you can enjoy lots of exclusive benefits, which include:

You can find out more about our Just Swim membership here, or you can join for free online here.

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

Rural Business Awards Success For Accessibility Mark Centres

Friday 10 November 2017

Two Accessibility Mark accredited riding centres have received recognition at the Rural Business Awards (RBAs) 2017.

Divoky Riding School based in Somerset was judged the winner in the Best Rural Sporting Business category, with Radway Riding School based in Warwickshire crowned runner-up.

Pat Bishop from Divoky Riding School was presented with the prestigious award at a glittering awards ceremony held at Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey that was compered by Jules Hudson of BBC Escape to the Country fame.

The only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses, the awards are now in their third year and are run in partnership with the Country Land and Business Association  and Amazon.

Judges felt Divoky was an inspired business with ‘excellent social credentials’ which successfully combined teaching with grazing and conservation.

Divoky Riding School is a BHS Approved riding school on the Mendip Hills between Frome and Shepton Mallet, providing riding opportunities for all, including disabled riders. It offers BHS qualifications plus training to children who are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training), or partially excluded from school, in equine studies or land management. The school also works with the National Trust as graziers on the Large Blue Butterfly site at Collards hill, using riding school ponies.

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.

Pat Bishop from Divoky Riding School said,

“Since I started Divoky Riding School in 1999 we have steadily grown our team and our facilities to become a really successful business. With outstanding coaches, our students get the very best training and our location in the Somerset countryside is ideal.

“For our work to be highlighted at the Rural Business Awards is a wonderful achievement and I’m delighted to have picked up the award on behalf of our team.”

Radway Riding School were thrilled to be announced runner-up in the same category, with the judges commenting on their fantastic stability and financial growth, as well as making a massive contribution to engaging young people and providing opportunities to introduce them to the equestrian sector, both riding and working.

Maggie Boswell from Radway Riding School said,

“The competition for this year’s Best Rural Sporting Business was really tough and we’re really happy to be taking home the runner-up prize. It has been great being involved in this year’s Rural Business Awards programme and maybe next year we’ll be back and go one better to take home the top prize.

Maggie Boswell and Jane Holdsworth from Radway Riding School who were judged runners up in the Best Sporting Rural Business Category at the Rural Business Awards 2017

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 38 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.

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

Minister announces new partnership to support disabled people being active

Friday 10 November 2017

Former Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health and now the International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt MP has unveiled plans for a pioneering cross-sector scheme to give disabled people and those with long-term health conditions better access to physical activity opportunities.

The cross-sector initiative – to be led by ukactive, Sport England, Disability Rights UK and the English Federation of Disability Sport – will aim to remove barriers to physical activity for disabled people so they can tap into its myriad benefits.

Speaking at the ukactive National Summit in Westminster last week (November 1st) the former Minister said:

“The aim of this partnership is to create a cultural shift and change in perceptions around disabled people’s participation in physical activity, and to create a national ambition within the physical activity sector to become more inclusive for disabled people.

In order to accomplish this, the partnership is developing a project which will take an holistic approach to the sector.

The scheme will identify the baseline of current activity levels, facility usage and sector engagement, and bring together insight from disabled people and operators within the sector. It will explore the customer journey that disabled people experience and – as The Minister noted detail “the difficulties disabled people experience in participating in physical activity”.

The initiative will also create flagship sites with six operators – PureGym, David Lloyd Leisure, Everyone Active, Virgin Active, Greenwich Leisure Limited and Places for People – who were praised by the Minister for supporting the development of the scheme. They will test, validate, and promote the changes that can be made to improve disabled people’s active use of leisure facilities.

Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK, said:

“Disabled people are less active because they have traditionally been excluded from the leisure industry and other physical activity provision. They have told us that the barriers they face include lack of information, support and physical access. We look forward to being part of this partnership with ukactive, Sport England and English Federation of Disability Sport to break down the barriers that exclude us.

“At Disability Rights UK we work hard to ensure that disabled people have the same rights as others to live good lives and play an equal part in society. We feel that our involvement in this exciting new partnership will help us towards achieving this vision.

“I look forward to the work the partnership will do to open up leisure facilities to all disabled people, it signals a positive change in approaches to engaging disabled people which we are really happy to see. On a personal level, I look forward to being able to go into leisure facilities and actually use the equipment and activities available.”

You can read the whole press release with quotes from ukactive, Sport England and the English Federation of Disability Sport here.

For further information, please contact ukactive Head of Communications Jak Phillips on 07958 119320, or email: 

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

Applications for the London Marathon 2017 for Disability Rights UK – Open Now

Wednesday 8 November 2017

DR UK is now recruiting runners for London Marathon 2018 and we need you!

Are you eager to make a difference? Ready to make a change for the people with disabilities across the UK? We are devoted to campaigning to strengthen and protect disabled people’s rights and you can help us to raise money to support the work we do. The money that you raise goes straight back into the work the charity does in supporting some of the most disadvantaged people in society. We receive no government funding for our core work so the money raised really does make a difference!

Join #TeamDRUK and apply to run the Virgin London Marathon! By joining us you will receive:

  • Running Vest or T-Shirt
  • Fundraising advice, ideas and support
  • Weekly emails for encouraging advice and training tips
  • Your Story published on our website

Any Questions?  Contact Chelsey on: 0207 250 8196 /

REGISTRATION FEE £150                                     MINIMUM TARGET £1700

*If you reach £1700 or over, we will return your registration fee*

Don’t Fancy Running the Marathon but want to come along and Cheer with the team? Email me with your details and we can arrange for you to join our squad of volunteers on the day ready and willing to cheer on #TeamDRUK

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

Wednesday 8 November 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.

6 Things You Need to Know About Accessibility Mark

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Accessibility Mark is opening doors for more disabled riders to participate in equine activities up and down the country. Here we find out more about the initiative that was launched to provide commercial riding centres with a recognised accreditation.

For some people horse-riding is more than just learning to ride, the activity is also therapy, helping to build strength and balance or improving their communication skills.

The benefits to mental and physical well-being are now much endorsed, with a recent study from the charity Mind, concluding that 80% of people said their mental health improved following exercise.

Accessibility Mark is helping to provide more opportunities for disabled riders, here we find out 6 things about the scheme that you might not know.

6 Things You Need to Know About Accessibility Mark

  1. Accessibility Mark is a Sport England funded project launched by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation’s participant project.
  2. The scheme gives riding centres, schools and clubs access to support and training from RDA so they can deliver new opportunities to the disabled community.
  3. Centres can gain a recognised accreditation from RDA promoting the fact they have received training and meet the required standards.
  4. There are currently 38 centres nationwide that have gained the Accessibility Mark stamp of approval and are encouraging those who do not already participate in equestrian activities or would not usually have the opportunity to do so, to experience the many benefits that riding and being around horses can bring.
  5. Accessibility Mark caters for riders with learning disabilities as well as physical disabilities, therefore during training emphasis is also placed on communication, teaching staff members how to effectively converse with people who have difficulties in this area.
  6. RDA provides access to their resources such as the RDA Tracker programme. The Tracker is a simple to use holistic tool to measure progress delivered through horse riding. These results can be used by coaches and therapists to tailor lessons accordingly for maximum benefit.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

Amilly Fitness is here!

Thursday 19 October 2017

Inspire Peterborough, Oak Activities and The Mobility Aids Centre have worked hard to create our very own inclusive health and wellbeing centre, one that’ll cater to everybody!

Based in Stanground, Peterborough they are providing the perfect go-to destination for all of Peterborough and the nearby villages. Excited to know more? Read on!
WE CAN NOW ANNOUNCE THAT THEY WILL BE OPENING ON 1 NOVEMBER 2017 with two action-packed days a week for you to enjoy!

Earlier this summer we hosted an open day that SAW a near 100 people – including the Mayor and a television actress – come and check out not only what we will have to offer, but share their views and ideas also.

Once you enter the doors at Amilly Fitness you will have the chance for an all-inclusive workout, you can have fun and take part in classes. Also, it’s a chance to meet new people, set up a routine to live your week by, and yes, we’ll have refreshments on offer. So whether you’re looking to add something to your weekly schedule, or you want to meet new people, Amilly Fitness will be providing a platform for you to do both with.

Tom of Oak Activities insisted there’d be something for everyone to enjoy, saying,

“for the seated exercise class; aimed at 50+ and adults with disabilities. This fun class which is aimed at all levels and abilities: focus on strength and conditioning and the major muscles groups. The aim of the class is to improve balance, strength and movement in arms, legs and hands.”

Looking for more reasons to come and see what Amilly Fitness has to offer? Tom further added

“We want the gym to offer something other gyms do not offer – a non judgemental place for adults to come and improve their fitness without feeling self-conscious. A safe and welcoming gym where people can get fitter then have a cup of tea with friends.”

Doesn’t that sound like the perfect place to come and spend your Mondays and Wednesdays? We think so! With our fully-trained gym staff, our Inspire team located nearby, and much, much more, you’ll have an experience that’ll keep you coming back for more for just £2 per session.

We also have room for you to join the team in some capacity. If you’re looking to gain some experience or add a new reference to your CV then Amilly can help you. We’re always on the look-out for both gym instructors and refreshment assistants. Contact us or you want to meet new people and gain new skills.

Stay tuned to our social media for all updates, timetables, vacancies and much, much more.

This is quite simply just the beginning, and although we’re already giving you a lot to keep you entertained, we’re aiming to grow with your demands, preferences and needs.

Kenneth from Inspire is adamant that Amilly Fitness will be like nothing that went before it.

“People want a place they can visit that will refresh and reinvigorate them both mentally and physically”, he said. “Amilly Fitness will be just that. I myself was a carer for my Mother, and a place like this would’ve been not only beneficial for her, but carers like myself”,

he continued.

“We wanted to create something unique, something that would get the city of Peterborough and the surrounding areas talking. I think we’ve done just that and on November 1st you will all get to see what the entire team has spent months working on. I, for one, can’t wait to welcome you the Amilly Fitness family”,

Kenneth concluded.


Who are we? Amilly Fitness, part of Inspire Peterborough an inclusive and disability sport project of Disability Peterborough

Where are we? Amilly House, Stanground, by The Mobility Aids Centre 88 South Street, Stanground, PE2 8EZ

How to book? Visit or for group bookings please call Inspire on 01733 330815

Further information? If you want to know anything at all then email Inspire Peterborough on, visit our facebook page/amilly-fitness, or call Inspire on 01733330815 or Tom Milner from Oak Activities on 07342036029!

Has becoming active helped you? Why not share your story with us by emailing or read other people’s personal experiences here.

Free wheelchair dance talent development programme

Friday 13 October 2017

Wheelchair dance is recognised by the International Paralympic Committee and people compete all around the world. Supported by the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund, we are delighted to announce a FREE 9-week wheelchair dance development programme for people interested in competing or performing.

The course will be led by a world-leading wheelchair dance champion who will take participants through the different Latin and Ballroom dances, developing technical and creating skills. You don’t need a dance partner.

Whether you compete in other wheelchair sports and want to challenge yourself in a new field or just love to dance – we will support you to develop your potential and progress along a competitive pathway. Former dance experience is helpful but not required.

Places are limited and must be reserved in advance.

To book visit:

Or call: 07976 363861

Want to know more about how to get disabled people active? Sign up to one of our Get Yourself Active Learning Events.

Cambridge: Make your sports sessions inclusive

Friday 13 October 2017

Adapted Sports Course at Cherry Hinton Village LC – 16th November 2017

Disability Sports Coach is delivering an ‘Adapted Sports Course – coaching disabled people’ with to 20 spaces available. The course is ideal for coaches, support workers, teachers, volunteers and anyone working with disabled people, who want to make sport or activities inclusive.

The course covers both theory and practical experiences including:

  • An introduction to disability awareness
  • Practical experience of Paralympic an Adapted Sports such as Boccia, Goalball, Table Cricket, Polybat & New Age Kurling including setting up and using the equipment, rules, game tactics and coaching scenarios
  • Principles of how to adapt and modify activities for different impairment groups with practical scenarios and tasks

The course is fully accredited by SkillsActive and all attendees receive an Adapted Sport Training Guide and a certificate of attendance on the day.

Course Information

  • Thursday 16th November from 11.30 – 5pm
  • Cherry Hinton Village Leisure Centre, Coville Road, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, CB1 9EJ
  • £130 + booking fee

Book your place with a few simple clicks today! 

Want to know more about how to get disabled people active? Sign up to one of our Get Yourself Active Learning Events.

Specialist Equipment Helping Accessibility Mark Riders

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Here with the help of Accessibility Mark we take a look at some of the specialist equipment commercial riding centres use when providing lessons for disabled riders.

Horse riding has many benefits for disabled people and for those with conditions that effect communication, physical strength and balance.

Part of the foundations for the success of Accessibility Mark is down to the horses and ponies that are required to quickly adapt between riding lessons for clients in a commercial riding school and the disabled riders during an Accessibility Mark session.

Due to certain conditions riders can at times struggle to grip the reins properly or use the reins to balance, this is where centres can take advantage of specialist or modified equipment to ensure the safety of both horse and rider.

Wherever possible it is recommended that regular equipment should be used, but there are a number of useful pieces of equipment for those who need them.

During the initial training to become an Accessibility Mark centre, the ASO (Accessibility Support Officer) will introduce staff to a number of simple aids, as well as training on how to use each piece effectively to the benefit of the horse, rider and coach.

Correct use of the reins is one of the most important steps in learning to ride in order to communicate with the horse. Most novice riders will use their hands to balance when they first start learning, which can be uncomfortable for the horse; this is even more problematic for riders with poor core strength.

There are a wide range of specially adapted reins that can help riders to be more effective with rein control where function, grip, strength and hand and arm position may be compromised.

Rainbow reins are one of the most popular choices widely used for riders who lack concentration and are good for teaching the correct contact. The different colours help to achieve even rein length and can improve awareness when trying to prevent the reins from slipping through the hands; they are also easy to pick up when dropped by selecting the same coloured section.

Rainbow reins are one of the most popular choices, helping to teach the correct contact and are good for riders who lack concentration.

Rainbow reins can be used in conjunction with coloured mounted games equipment such as bean bags, poles and balls. For riders with learning disabilities, the coloured equipment is a simple tool in teaching colours and to follow patterns.

One centre using specialist equipment to great effect is Wrea Green Equitation Centre, based in Preston, who have even make extra modifications to meet their rider’s needs.

Owner Chris Pollitt explains how this modification is helping riders and ensuring the welfare of the horses and ponies: “We ask our saddler to remove the billet fastenings from the rainbow reins and replace them with a clip that can easily be attached and removed from the bit. When we are teaching a rider to steer we would attach the reins to the headcollar to remove pressure from the pony’s mouth, with a leader in control of the pony and in some cases two assistants either side.”

Other reins that can be used are ladder reins, looped reins and bar reins. Ladder reins are ideal for riders with poor strength in their hands or riders that need to control the horse with the wrist or elbow joint if hand grasp is non-functional.

Looped reins have several loops sewn to the inside of plain leather reins, that are large enough for the whole hand to slip in and out easily, meaning that reining can be done the with wrist, back of the hand or elbow. Bar reins provides a means for one handed riders to have improved contact.

Other pieces of equipment to help a disabled rider achieve their riding goals include bunny ears and a balance handle which both attach to the D ring on the saddle. Holding the Bunny ears or balance strap instead of the reins puts the rider in a better position, improving balance and security in the saddle.

Bunny ears improve balance and security in the saddle.

Kay Padfield, owner of Church Farm Equestrian, near Bristol said:

“We have riders that can’t grip the reins but who can grip the bunny ears, also some of our autistic riders won’t hold the reins properly or just let go suddenly, so it is in the interest of the horse for us to have control and for the rider to hold on to the ears. The suede texture of the ears can also be more appealing for some riders to hold.”

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.

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 38 Accessibility Mark approved-centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

Sign up to one of our Get Yourself Active learning events here.

Sport England Job Vacancy: Senior Manager Disability

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Sport England is looking for an outstanding individual to join its disability team to help deliver its new strategy, Towards an Active Nation.

Closing date: Thursday 12 October 2017

Sport England’s vision is that everyone in England, regardless of age, background or level of ability, feels able to engage in sport and physical activity. Nearly half of all disabled people do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week and only 42% reach the recommended amount of physical activity each week. We need to change this and you can help us do that.

In Towards an Active Nation we are prioritising demographic groups who are currently under-represented in terms of their engagement with sport and physical activity. This includes many different groups such as women, older people, disabled people, and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

We are looking for a Senior Manager to join our high performing disability team, which is part of a new directorate leading on inactivity. You will also work closely with other directorates and teams across Sport England to make sure that we deliver effectively to disabled people across all areas of our work.

The role will have responsibility for leading on several relationships with key partners to influence these stakeholders in relation to the delivery of our disability ambitions as set out within our strategy.

You will also be responsible for overseeing some of our existing disability investment programmes, ensuring these have the greatest impact possible and increase the number of people engaged in sport and physical activity.

We are looking for someone who has significant experience of disability and has worked on projects or programmes that have influenced disabled people. An ability to successfully project manage is essential. However most important of all is the ability to manage relationships and successfully influence change at a senior level to deliver strategic outcomes.

Interested? Discover more by visiting for further information or to apply.

Sport England actively promotes diversity in employment and sport and welcomes applications from all parts of the community.

Full Time, Permanent / £37,336 (London), £33,256 (National) plus generous package

Senior Manager Disability job pack download

“I was doing exercise without it seeming like exercise’’


Wednesday 27 September 2017

National Fitness Day is a brilliant way of raising awareness of the enjoyment and benefits physical activity can bring to a range of people.

Demonstrating the enjoyment of physical activity has been a key component in establishing sustained participation amongst disabled people across Cheshire, through the Get Yourself Active project.

When the Get Yourself Active project started in February 2015, Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) had an exciting opportunity to shape a project which would meet the goals and aspirations of local disabled people, who wanted to be active. We know from EFDS research that disabled people are still half as likely to be active as non-disabled people. This is why it is critical that when we do get the opportunity to engage disabled people in physical activity, we create a setting which supports personalisation. It is also important to base the activities around the wider benefits physical activity can bring and not solely focus on the way an activity technique is conducted.

At a recent project CCIL set up, in partnership with the Iris Vision Centre in Crewe and Everybody Sport & Recreation, a participant commented after a session that she had taken part in, that due to the enjoyment, it didn’t feel like she was exercising. I thought this was brilliant, as the participants had a session developed to meet their needs, which allowed them to focus on the enjoyment they were having, instead of focusing on the exercises they were doing. The success of the delivery has resulted in regular sessions being embedded into the Vision Centre’s activity calendar, which is being delivered by local leisure centre staff, in a way which meets the needs of the participants.

Many of the community support networks and external organisations we have partnered up with have never engaged with the physical activity or sport sector. This is a similar situation with the health and social care sector, that have described the sport and leisure landscape as ‘’confusing’’.

Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) are in a fantastic position to help support the leisure sector to understand what disabled people want and how they can be inclusive. As DPULO’s are organisations with lived experience of disability and have links to a large number of people with disabilities, they are a crucial stakeholder in the design, development and delivery of inclusive activities. I hope other DPULOs support National Fitness Day, to encourage and showcase disabled people being active, in an environment which is right for them.

Tom Bell

September 2017

Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) is a Disabled Peoples User Led Organisation working across Cheshire to empower disabled people to have independence, choice and control over their lives and remove the barriers that exist within society.

CCIL works in partnership with Disability Rights UK to deliver the Get Yourself Active project which is about ensuring that disabled people have the information and knowledge to make choices about being active in a way that is right for the individual. CCIL has been working in partnership with colleagues in social care, health and the sport sector to develop and share models of practice which empower and support disabled people to get and stay active.

Contact CCIL or DR UK

Tom Bell – Get Yourself Active Coordinator at CCIL


Leanne Wightman – Get Yourself Active Project Manager at DR UK


InstructAbility Dips Its Toe In the Water

Friday 22 September 2017

A collaboration between Aspire, Nottingham City Council and The Institute of Swimming has resulted in the launch of a new Swimming Teacher Training Programme for disabled people.

The course, which sits under the InstructAbility umbrella is being piloted in Nottingham, in November, with online applications now open on the InstrutcAbility website.

InstructAbility was set up by the national spinal injury charity and inclusive leisure operator, Aspire, in 2010. The multi award-winning project which is funded by Sport England, is best known for its inclusive Gym Instructor programmes delivered in partnership with YMCAfit.

Opportunities for disabled people to become fitness professionals will also be available in Nottingham, with a gym instructor course running parallel to the swimming pilot. Key features of both courses include adjustment to training to ensure it is accessible to a wide range of disabled people. The other unique aspect of the programme is that once qualified, instructors undertake work placements to develop their own experience whilst encouraging other disabled people to participate in leisure activities, hence, providing benefits for employers and customers too.

Louise and Sam swimming

Hilary Farmiloe, InstructAbility Manager at Aspire says,

“During our consultations, Nottingham City Leisure Services highlighted the demand for swimming teachers, so we have teamed up with the Institute of Swimming to deliver this new pilot programme. In the short term we hope these courses will provide more disabled people with training and employment in the leisure sector. Longer term we are working with governing bodies, training providers and employers to create sustainable solutions to increasing the diversity of the sector workforce.”

The fully funded programmes are open to disabled people who have experience in swimming or in using the gym. The training and work placements will take place within Nottingham City Leisure Centres.

Lauren Licietis, from Institute of Swimming said,

“We are extremely proud to be part of this project and hope to use insight gathered from the pilot to make careers in swimming more accessible.”

Disabled people who wish to apply for a course can get further details on the website and are encouraged to apply early due to the limited places available.

‘Tell Us About Your Care’ Partnership

Friday 22 September 2017

Disability Rights UK ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ partnership with the Care Quality Commission

Good care? Poor care? Tell us now

Disability Rights UK is working with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as part of a new ‘Tell Us About Your Care’ partnership together with a number of national charities, including Mind, The National Autistic Society, Patients Association and the Relatives & Residents Association.

View leaflet

Disability Rights UK will be gathering feedback from disabled people who contact us about their experiences of using health and social care services.

Deputy CEO Sue Bott says:

“Disability Rights UK are delighted to be working with CQC as part of the Tell Us About Your Care Partnership.  We are pleased that through this initiative disabled people and people with long term health conditions will have the opportunity to tell the regulator about their experiences of the health and social care services they use, not only specialist services but services like GP surgeries that are used by everyone.”

The CQC website can be accessed here, and in the meantime you can also provide direct feedback to the CQC on your experience of using any of the services they regulate.

We’re working together to ensure health and social care services in England provide you with high quality care so tell us about your care.

Sign up for a Get Yourself Active learning event near you.

Wheels for Wellbeing’s Beyond the Bicycle Conference

Monday 18 September 2017

Wheels for Wellbeing are celebrating 10 years of enhancing disabled people’s lives through the many benefits of cycling with our first Beyond the Bicycle Conference.

Following the release of Public Health England’s report and their finding that not enough is being done to promote cycling and walking, Wheels for Wellbeing’s Beyond the Bicycle Conference is perfectly timed. With equalities legislation requiring public bodies to consider the needs of disabled cyclists, attend to gain a crucial update on how to meet this requirement.

This event offers practical strategies for removing barriers to cycling and increasing the numbers of disabled cyclists.

Join us to explore the transformative relationship between disability and cycling through topics such as:

  • Promoting inclusive cycling in your area and understanding its benefits
  • Recognising cycles as mobility aids
  • Making cycling infrastructure inclusive

With increased investment and ongoing efforts to make cities more cycle-friendly, this event explores how to best utilise resources in order to create an inclusive and accessible environment for all.

Speakers include:

Morning Chair: Kamran Mallick, Chief Executive Officer, Disability Rights UK

Afternoon Chair: Ruth Cadbury MP, Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group

Will Norman, Walking and Cycling Commissioner
Rupert Furness, Head of Active and Accessible Transport, Department for Transport

Dr Justin Varney, National Lead for Adult Health & Wellbeing (Healthy People), Public Health England

Isabelle Clement, Director, Wheels for Wellbeing

Dr Andrew Boyd, GP, Clapham Park Group Practice and Clinical Lead, Physical Activity, Royal College of GP’s

Dr Rachel Aldred, Senior Lecturer in Transport, University of Westminster and Chair, Policy Forum, London Cycling Campaign

If you are a disabled cyclists or individual campaigner interested in attending, please email us on:



Sign up for a Get Yourself Active learning event near you, and find out how we have been working with and for disabled people to get them more active.

WheelPower Primary Sports Camp

Monday 18 September 2017

WheelPower’s Primary Sports Camps are a great way for children aged 6-11 with a disability to discover sport in a safe, welcoming and friendly environment and all activity is adapted to suit your abilities. The Camps are a great way to make new friends, improve your health and have fun!

Date: Saturday 4th November 2017

Time: Registration is from 9.15am and the camp will finish at approximately 3.30pm.

LocationStoke Mandeville Stadium Guttmann Road Stoke Mandeville Aylesbury HP21 9PP United Kingdom.

There is plenty of accessible parking at the Stadium – make sure you give your vehicle registration number to reception and then parking is free all day! The Stadium also has accessible toilets and changing facilities

Cost: The entry fee is £9.00 per participant and £5.00 per parent and a lunch will be provided.​ Accommodation, if required, will be available on Friday and Saturday night at the Olympic Lodge, Stoke Mandeville Stadium at an additional cost.

The deadline for registration and camp payment is Friday 20th October 2017.

To book online via Eventbrite click here.

Click here to download a booking form.

For more information visit


British Blind Sport Have a Go Day Newcastle

Friday 15 September 2017

British Blind Sport will be running a fun, free, multi-sport event in Newcastle on Friday 27th October for local visually impaired and blind people. Working in partnership with Henshaws Newcastle, a number of sports and activities will be available to sample for free.

The event is open to everyone, no previous experience in sport or physical activity are necessary and family or friends are welcome to attend.

When and Where

Date: 27th October 2017

Time: 10:30-3pm

Venue: Walker Activity Dome, Wharrier Street, Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE6 3BR.

 Get Involved!

Register online please click here

For further details please telephone:  07917 388 172 or email

Sign up for a Get Yourself Active learning event near you, and find out how we have been working with and for disabled people to get them more active.

Contact a Family re-brands

Friday 8th of September 2017

Contact a Family has re-branded. The organisation to reach more people especially young families is now to be simply known as “Contact”. The re-branding and new look will make their information and online presence more accessible and bolster the support they provide families in those stressful early days.

To access their new look click here


Sign-up for a Get Yourself Active learning event near you

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Disability Rights UK and partners are holding a series of events across the country to share the learning from the Get Yourself Active (GYA) project. Project partners will share their experiences of developing better opportunities for disabled people to be more active. They will highlight their success through partnership work with disabled people’s user led organisations, social care, health and sport sector organisations. If this is your area of work, you can sign up for an event near you today.

About the event

  • Listen to presentations from GYA partners about their experience of coproducing 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 with colleagues from different sectors.

A full agenda, including the list of speakers will be available soon.

Areas of interest

  • Personal budgets, personal health budgets and the Care Act
  • Coproduction in design, development and delivery of physical activity and sport locally
  • The role of disabled people’s user led organisations in engaging with inactive disabled people
  • Outcomes of physical activity around independence, choice and control, health and wellbeing and community connections

Who should attend?

These events are for you if you are from a Disabled People’s User Led Organisation (DPULO), the health or social care sectors, or the sports sector, and you have an interest in early intervention and prevention approaches through physical activity, personalisation, co-production and involvement and wellbeing outcomes.

Event listings

North West – Manchester, 27 September 2017, 09.30 – 13.30

East – Peterborough, 2 October 2017, 10.00 – 14.00

Yorkshire – Leeds, 9 October 2017, 10.00 – 14.00

South West – Bristol, 10 October 2017, 10.00 – 14.00

South East – Southampton, 17 October 2017, 10.00 – 14.00

East Midlands – Leicester, 2 November 2017, 10.00 – 14.00

North East – Newcastle Upon Tyne, 9 November 2017, 10.00 – 14.00

West Midlands – Telford, 15 November 2017, 10.00 – 14.00

You can click here to sign up to your nearest event

We hope you can join us for a morning of interesting presentations and discussions, followed by a networking lunch. Find out more from Kirsty Mulvey, Engagement and Research Officer at Get Yourself Active by calling 020 7250 8112 or emailing



New joint fact sheet by DR UK and EFDS on Personalisation released

Disability Rights UK and EFDS have released a new fact sheet that provides information about the personalisation agenda and top tips on how to support disabled people to be active using personal budgets.

The fact sheet is the latest addition to a collection of engagement resources that advises organisations on how they can plan, target and deliver more appealing and accessible activities for disabled people. Disability Rights UK and EFDS hope this new resource will lead to more successful engagement ideas for disabled people to be and stay active for life.

The fact sheet covers the following topics:

  • What is the personalisation agenda?
  • What is a personal budget?
  • How do personal budgets link to being active?
  • Top tips for engaging personal budget holders and other disabled people in physical activity

Disability Rights UK supports personalisation and believes that independent living is about more than the care disabled people receive. It is about enhancing independence, wellbeing and quality of life. Being active is an important way to feel good, socialise and be part of the community.

For more information about personal budgets, visit Disability Rights UK website.

To access the new fact sheet: Supporting disabled people to be active using personal budgets click  DR UK EFDS Engagement Resource Personal Budgets


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.

Get Yourself Active Website Feedback

Wednesday 26 July 2017

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

We are constantly trying to improve our offer. This is why we are conducting research into how our users perceive our website. Are we useful? Are we accessible? What would you like to see on the website?

Please have a browse of our Get Yourself Active website and familiarise yourself with its contents before taking this survey. Your feedback is very important to us.

The survey should take about ten minutes to complete. Take the survey here.

Get Yourself Active is working with Swim England to understand more from disabled people about their swimming experiences. Find out more.

Take part in PASCCAL’s research and get an M&S voucher

Wednesday 26 July 2017

The PASCCAL project wants to know about your experiences of watching the Paralympics   

The PASCCAL project aims to address the meanings ascribed to disabled athletes in Paralympic sport (Rio 2016 and London 2012 Paralympics) and audience interpretations of these. The project is of pressing importance with respect to furthering knowledge, policy and practice with regard to the televised production of disability and to shape, include and give greater voice to disability in the media.

We are running small, friendly focus group discussions and interviews across England and Wales and we’re keen to hear about your experiences of watching the Paralympics as part of understanding audience interpretations. If you would like to take part please contact All participants will be provided with an M&S voucher to the value of £15 to thank you for your time.

All participants must be aged 18 or over to enter. We are looking to speak to both disabled and non-disabled people.

Visit for more information or follow them on Twitter @pasccalproject.

Get Yourself Active is working with Swim England to understand more from disabled people about their swimming experiences. Find out more.

Maya the determined wheelchair racing whizz kid!

Tuesday 25 July 2017

This week’s Personal Experience Blog is written by Maya’s parents to share her amazing story with our readers and how even at such a young age she is developing into a potential wheelchair Paralympic champion  – enjoy

Maya is a 5 year old full-time wheelchair user who loves school, swimming, riding her trike, dancing and going to the skate park. Her favourite athletes are Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Hannah Cockroft.

Maya started using a self-propel wheelchair from a very young age. At the age of two Maya had built up enough upper body strength to learn to army crawl and this was when her true spirit began to emerge. We knew from that point that she wasn’t going to let her disability or doctor’s prognosis stop her aiming high and achieving her dreams.

Maya 3 years old ready for her first PGER charity run

After wheelchair services said she was too young to self-propel we searched high and low for light weight wheelchairs that may be suitable and, to our big surprise, just a few days before her 3rd birthday we were gifted Maya’s first light-weight wheelchair from a lovely family who faced a similar battle.  Maya soon got the hang of it and within a few weeks was whizzing around alphabet day nursery, Whittlesey, racing and chasing her friends. By the age of 4 she was completing independent fun runs, walks and events to raise money for charity including PGER fun run and Parallel at the Olympic park, London. This year at just 5 years old, Maya is raising money for local charities and is also fundraising for some small racing equipment by completing the Parallel 5 km event, Disneyland Paris 5 km race and the PGER as part of team We’re all mad here.

Maya has a busy sports and therapy programme where we incorporate the things she loves (mainly all things Disney) to work on her strength, flexibility, balance and coordination as well as her posture. Maya attends Alderman and Jacob’s Primary school, Whittlesey and with the help and support of her Physiotherapist they have developed an inclusive and varied programme for Maya to be involved in and enjoy at school.

Racing career!

Maya at Wheelchair racing training session

Maya started wheelchair racing after we saw a Facebook post about free taster sessions being held with Nene Valley Harriers in Peterborough. We were a little unsure if Maya would be big enough to give it a go but thought what’s the harm in trying. If anything, we just thought it would be great for her to meet other people. We encourage Maya to live a life without limits and that anything is possible if she puts her mind to it. We like to encourage her to find the ‘Maya Way’ of doing the things she loves. Racing or ‘running’ as she calls it, is another way of achieving her dreams. Wheelchair racing has also opened up lots of opportunities to try other sports including an inclusive sports day and local wheelchair accessible activities. Since attending the taster sessions Maya has been practicing hard, learning new skills and her confidence is soaring. There are also talks of Maya competing at her first ever wheelchair racing event on the 8th October at the PGER in Peterborough just 4 days before her birthday. What a way to celebrate turning 6!

Maya says,

“I love racing with my friends! Racing is fun. I love going really fast and winning!”

Follow Maya’s progress at:

Help Maya reach her dreams at

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

Is your swimming going swimmingly?

Thursday 20 July 2017

We know that disabled people face many barriers to getting active. This is why Get Yourself Active is working with Swim England to understand more from disabled people about their swimming experiences.

We want to understand the barriers and negative experiences that disabled people face, as well as the positive experiences that make swimming great.

Share your stories –good and bad – and take our short survey here.

Hydrotherapy pool refurbishment gathering pace

Thursday 13 July 2017

Refurbishment and repair works which will enable Peterborough City Council to re-open a popular hydrotherapy pool are gathering pace.

St George’s Community Hydrotherapy Pool on Dogsthorpe Road has been closed since March after a leak was discovered in the pool.

The city council has committed to building a brand new facility in the city, as it knows how vital it is for many of the city’s residents.

However, as the new pool is not expected to be open until late 2019, the city council has also committed to repairing the existing pool to limit the gap in provision.

As well as fixing the leak, there is also a need to remove asbestos from the building and make a number of other minor repairs. These works, expected to cost in the region of £45,000, are underway and progressing well.

The city council expects the St George’s hydrotherapy pool to be open again by the end of September.

Councillor Irene Walsh, cabinet member for communities and member of the pool’s steering group, said:

“There are a good number of people across the city who rely on St George’s for pain relief and companionship. In fact, it has helped in excess of 3,000 people manage their pain and health conditions since it opened in March 2011 and at the point the pool had to close temporarily more than 250 people were using it on a weekly basis.

“It is for this reason that I have championed the continued provision of hydrotherapy services in the city and why I have committed to the repair, renovation and reopening of the existing pool as quickly as possible.

“Work is progressing well and I am pleased to say that we are on schedule for the pool to reopen by the end of September at this stage.

“However we must not forget that although the current pool is well loved and used by a growing number of residents, it is rapidly reaching the end of its life.

“This is why I am delighted that plans are progressing on the design and costings for a brand new community hydrotherapy pool which we aim to have open by September 2019.

“We will shortly be starting to work closely with the pool’s steering and user groups to design a modern facility for the wider community.”

The plans for a new hydrotherapy pool are part of a wider plan to relocate Heltwate Special School to a new site in the city with extra pupil places and modern facilities, which will include the new pool. This is due to a growing number of pupils with special educational needs in the city.

The new school will be based at the former Perkins Sports Ground on Newark Road.

Whilst St George’s is closed, Inspire Peterborough is offering opportunities for people to keep active, rehabilitate and exercise in the interim.

Inspire Peterborough now offers more than 20 weekly seated exercise/tai chi/yoga classes for people of all ages and abilities. The sessions are accessible, inclusive and affordable and take place across the city.

For more information, email or call 01733 330815.

Find out how Jonathon gets active with the help of Inspire Peterborough. Read his blog ‘From Boccia to Ice Skating, it’s important to find the right activity for you‘.

Summer Festival 2017 – Free for all disabled people

Disability Sports Coach’s (DSC) annual  Summer Festival is back on the 28th July 2017 with Skateboarding, Cheerleading, Wallball & Rugby added to the 2017 line up!

Dig out your club t-shirt and enjoy festivals sports activities with new sports Skateboarding, Cheerleading, Wallball & Rugby added to a long list of favourites, such as Football, Basketball, Cricket, Tennis, Cycling, Boccia, and Dance. With over 20 different sports on offer, there is something for everyone!

Participants are free to enjoy the sports in their own time and go as many ‘come and try’ sports as they choose.

Participation is easy, just turn up on the 28th of July from 10 AM at  Westway Sport and Fitness Centre, 1 Crowthorne Road, W10 6RP

Registration is free and can be done on the day or in advance by calling Lauren on 0207 021 0973 or email

For more information click here

Success from Great Britain and Northern Island in World Transplant Games

Friday 7 July 2017

Back in April we heard from Simon as he was about to embark upon his latest attempt at a gold medal in the World Transplant Games. We find out how Great Britain and Northern Ireland got on.

Simon won a bronze, silver and gold medal at this year’s World Transplant Games in Malaga

When Simon contributed to our Personal Experience Blogs back in April he explained how having a liver transplant led him to enter the Transplant Games. As a novice to competition swimming he came across some obstacles with his goggles filling up with water and his trunks coming halfway down his bum due to the force of a dive, but he persevered. When we spoke to Simon back in April he was about to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the World Transplant Games.

The World Transplant Games Federation has been staging international sporting events and promoting education about transplantation in order to promote the physical success of transplant surgery and the need to raise public awareness and increase organ donation. Through their various initiatives they aim to highlight the importance of physical activity and healthy lifestyle in the long term management and wellbeing of transplant recipients.

One of the ways they achieve these objectives is through the hosting of The Summer and Winter World Transplant Games. This year’s Summer World Transplant Games took place in sunny Malaga, Spain at the end of June. There was some tough competition from other countries but Great Britain and Northern Ireland were the clear winners, with 221 medals more than the next runner up, the United States of America.

Simon contributed a Gold medal in 50 metre backstroke, a Silver in 100 metre and a Bronze in 200 metre free to the impressive medal collection.

We caught up with Simon to find out how this year’s competition went:

“Once again it was a great honour to represent my country at the 21st World Transplant Games.”

“The GB swimming team was big, with more than 50 swimmers. Amazing considering as a team we get no government or other funding.

“But the competition was strong. Probably the strongest it had been in recent years. Some other teams even get financial incentives from their governments for medal positions.

“But for me, the competition is about taking part to show how successful organ donation is, and to pay tribute to my donor and all the donor families who, at that most difficult time, when they have just lost a loved one, choose to help another person and donate their loved one’s organs.

“Now back home, my next challenge is to train up for the London Serpentine 1 mile swim in September.”

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

Read Simon’s blog ‘Experience only comes with time and practice, trying things out and failing sometimes