Get yourself active blog



InstructAbility Dips Its Toe In the Water


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

New TfL map to help people with conditions including claustrophobia and anxiety

Friday 7 July 2017

People with claustrophobia or other anxiety conditions could find their journeys less stressful as Transport for London (TfL) recently launched a new map that shows which stations and sections of the TfL network are underground.

The new addition to TfL’s broad selection of downloadable Tube maps will help a range of their customers navigate the network more comfortably by showing them routes they can take to avoid areas with large stretches of tunnels.

There are 270 stations on the Tube network, but more than half are actually above ground, with the Victoria and Waterloo and City lines being the only lines that are wholly underground. In the new design, parts of the lines on Harry Beck’s iconic map have been given a grey overlay to illustrate which stations or sections of track are underground. The new map also shows which London Overground, DLR and TfL Rail services are in tunnels.

For more on the press release click here

Download new map

Disabled Fitness Instructor Project Reaches Final of National Lottery Awards

Thursday 29 June 2017

InstructAbility, a training programme run by spinal injury charity Aspire, to help disabled people start a career in the fitness industry, has been shortlisted for the National Lottery Awards ‘Best Sport Project’. Winners in each category are decided by public vote which opens on 29 June and runs until 27 July.

InstructAbility provides disabled people with a path to employment, but also makes the sector more inclusive and encourages other disabled people to enjoy an active lifestyle.

Research shows there is a significant gap between disabled and non-disabled people’s sporting participation because of numerous barriers such as accessibility, how disabled people see themselves and the attitudes of other people.


InstructAbility participants, who have impairments ranging from physical and sensory to mental health conditions, complete a YMCAfit training course to qualify as gym instructors with a disability specialism. They then undertake a 12 week voluntary placement. Afterwards they are encouraged to progress into paid work, with many developing into group exercise instructors, personal trainers, rehabilitation specialists and setting up their own businesses.

More than 300 people have qualified as fitness professionals and volunteered in leisure facilities across the country, thanks to National Lottery funding via Sport England.  These trainers have delivered 70,000 fitness sessions with disabled clients and helped to raise awareness of disability among staff and other customers.  Half the participants have moved into paid employment.

Gary Puddifoot working as a gym instructor

Gary Puddifoot, 32, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ten years ago and is a full time wheelchair user.  With help from InstructAbility, Gary got a job at a leisure centre in Stratford.

Gary says:


“At first, I thought people wouldn’t listen to me because of my impairment but through the training and the support I received, my confidence as an instructor grew. I found I could relate to people better because I understood the challenges that they were facing.

“I absolutely love my job. I have a particular desire to get those with impairments or health conditions involved with fitness, and my story goes to prove that disability does not dictate what you can and can’t do in life.”

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, one of Britain’s greatest Paralympians and chair of ukactive,  sees InstructAbility as a programme that not only helps to change individual lives but has an impact across the whole physical activity sector.  In supporting the National Lottery Award finalist she said:

“There needs to be a

Tanni Grey-Thomspon, Chair of ukactive

fundamental shake-up of our approach to bring physical activity for disabled people into the mainstream, but there have been encouraging strides taken in recent years and InstructAbility deserves a lot of credit for this.

“The initiative is carrying out vital work to diversify our workforce by helping disabled people to gain the skills, training and opportunities to build careers in the physical activity sector based solely on merit.

“It is a great example of a proactive step towards being the all-inclusive physical activity sector that we aspire to be, whether it is in our workforce or our end users, by attracting new people through our doors who might have previously felt our services were not for them – both disabled people and the wider population.

“If every organisation in the physical activity sector shares a fraction of this commitment, we can increase diversity and demonstrate that this truly is a forward-thinking sector ready to deliver the increasingly important role that it will play in the future of our nation.”

Hilary Farmiloe, InstructAbility Manager at Aspire said:

“We’re delighted that our achievements helping so many disabled people build careers in the leisure sector have been recognised.  We hope everyone who knows InstructAbility and how we improve lives will vote for us to be named the UK’s Best Sport project.”

You can vote for InstructAbility to be the Best Sports Project from June 29 until July 27 online or by calling 0844 836 9708.

Vote for InstructAbility to be the Best Sports Project now!

Aspire announces GLL and LCIL as first partners to lead InstructAbility

Membership and Events Assistant vacancy at Disability Rights UK

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Disability Rights UK works to create a society where everyone with lived experience of disability or health conditions can participate as full citizens.

Disability Rights UK has a vacancy for a Membership and Events Assistant. The role will play an important part in organising and delivering Disability Rights UK’s range of events, including the annual Jack Ashley Memorial Lecture in October 2017 in London, and our Annual General Meeting in November 2017, to be held in Manchester. The role also involves continued development of DR UK’s online event delivery.

Salary £20-24,000 per annum (dependent on experience and with progression)

Full time 35hrs per week

The other main purpose of the role is to provide administrative support to Disability Rights UK’s growing membership function, which currently numbers more than 2,200 individuals and organisations.

To find out more information about the role, the skills you will need and how to apply visit the

Other news: The FA releases guidance on colour blindness in football.

‘I’m Back on the Dance Floor’

Tuesday 27 June 2017

This week’s Personal Experience Blog comes from Adrienne Armorer

In 2001, having left an evening of salsa dancing early, I was reminded that something was wrong. A guy that I’d danced with on numerous occasions and actually got on very well with told me I’d had too much to drink and ended our dance before the song finished. I wasn’t really a drinker and I’d only had water that evening. I decided to call it a night and limped to my car. Sitting in the driver’s seat I realised that I couldn’t drive as I couldn’t feel my right leg properly, or come to think of it, my right arm. This had happened before when everyone thought it was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because I worked on a computer every day.

Having numbness down one side of my body resulted in an urgent referral to a neurologist. The night before picking up my results I did a google search of my symptoms. I’d never heard of Multiple Sclerosis but the Neurologist agreed with google and said it was a possibility.

I needed to live life while I could. I continued dancing and travelled as much as possible.

Fast forward to 2004, I woke up one morning unable to see properly out of one eye. I had Optic Neuritis and could finally get a diagnosis of MS. Fortunately my sight returned after 6 weeks and I continued to dance when I could. Salsa in Zurich, Valencia, New York, Cancun – wherever there was a salsa club. Regular classes kept me mobile and feeling positive. I really loved dancing.

Alas after a fairly ordinary morning in 2008, I had to hang up my dancing shoes – or so I thought. A massive MS relapse put me in hospital for 10 weeks. I remember my youngest niece saying to me “but Aunty you don’t take drugs so why are you in rehab?”

I was paralysed from chest down and had to learn to do everything again; who knew making a cup of tea was so difficult? By the time I left the Neurological Rehab Unit fortunately most of the paralysis had subsided; I was walking with an elbow crutch and using a wheelchair for longer distances. A stress fracture in my right foot, due to the way I now walk pushed my return to dancing even further away. Even though the fracture finally healed after more than a year, I’m still in pain and can’t stand for long.

Getting back on the dance floor

When I received the Lewisham MS Society newsletter detailing Step Change Studios and their upcoming classes, I was over the moon. All I needed to do was sort out childcare and I was good to go. But who else was going to come with me? I have 3 friends with MS who use wheelchairs: one was busy, one had had a fall so wasn’t up to it, the other didn’t reply to my message. Could I go on my own? I’d voluntary work in Kenya and Ghana on my own in 2007, surely I could do this. Couldn’t I?

I hadn’t been able to sort out childcare and so I decided to bring my 7 year old, her cousin who was playing at our home and her mother, my niece, with me.

Wow – a 50:50 mix of wheelchair dancers and those without. Cool! A little warm-up and then we were off. I’m not a regular wheelchair user and get fatigued quite easily, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up. It was fine. Nuno and Rashmi are on hand to help and answer any questions. I also needed to ask one of the other wheelchair dancers how he was managing to turn his chair using just one hand. The hour flew by. What a great afternoon. We left on a high.

The all-inclusive dance class that Step Change Studios is running is perfect. It’s good exercise, great fun, a lovely way to socialise and most importantly, I’m back on the dance floor! You don’t need any previous experience – even my 7 year old now loves to spin me around in my wheelchair having watched the last 2 classes.

About Step Change Studios

Step Change Studios is a pioneering dance company committed to making Latin and Ballroom dance accessible for everyone. They offer fun, engaging opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to dance. They cater to all ages, abilities and needs. Step Change provide weekly classes in London; deliver dance in schools, colleges, social care, healthcare and community settings; and create imaginative bespoke dance projects. Their goal is to support everyone to achieve their dancing ambitions – whether that is to dance for fun, to be active, to perform or compete.

For more information contact Step Change Studios Founder Rashmi Becker on 07976 363861, or email: or visit:

On Saturday 10 June 2017, Step Change Studios launched its inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance classes at the Abbey Centre in London. Find out more.

The FA releases guidance on colour blindness in football

Monday 26 June 2017

One in 12 men and one in 200 women are affected by colour blindness, and The Football Association has published guidance notes on the condition to raise awareness of its impact on football.

If you work or volunteer for a club or league, this guide is intended to help you ensure colour-blind people are welcomed and integrated into the game, enjoying all the positive, lifelong benefits football offers.

The guidance was produced by the FA in conjunction with Colour Blind Awareness. It comes complete with visual examples and has the full support of UEFA, who intend to disseminate the guidance to all the football governing bodies under its umbrella.

Issues in Football

  • Kit clashes – between players, goalkeepers, match officials, the playing surface
  • Equipment – balls, bibs, training cones, line markings
  • Venues – facilities, way-finding, safety signage, lighting
  • Information – digital, ticket purchasing, matchday programmes
  • TV coverage – graphics, long-distance camera angles

The guidance explains the different types of colour blindness, answers common questions and provides suggested positive interventions with those who may be affected.

It gives best-practice visual examples to avoid kit clashes, and includes a series of simulations to show the normally-sighted what colour-blind people are likely to see.

Read the original article at or download Colour Blindness in football 115.5MB (PDF).

Weekend success for junior para-swimmers at National Championships

Monday 26 June 2017

Two records were broken at this weekend’s National Junior Para-Swimming Championships 2017. The event was funded by Swim England and delivered by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). Held at Sunderland Aquatics Centre on 24 and 25 June, the event provided young disabled swimmers with more competition experience and an opportunity to win medals against national rivals.

Louise and Sam swimming

There was one British record for Kimberley swimmer Sophie Woodward, 13, in the S3 50m Butterfly (classification for people with physical impairments), in which she clocked 1:22:85. Meanwhile, Letisha Ellis, 13 and from Isle of Man, broke a GB deaf age group record for S15 50m Freestyle in 31.84 seconds.

This year’s partnership between Swim England and EFDS increased the opportunity for youth talent development. Swimmers were aged between 10-16 year olds and from all over the UK.

Janet Warrington, Disability Swimming Head Coach for Hoddesdon swimming club, took two swimmers to the championships, and said afterwards:

“This event is extremely important because it offers a chance for the young swimmers to practice their races, learn lessons, meet new friends and achieve. All of these factors improve their confidence and self-esteem. It increases their passion and determination to do well in their chosen sport.

“My swimmers both learnt some big lessons this weekend. Louise came away with three bronze medals and Sam with one!”

Jannine Walker, National Events Manager for EFDS, said:

“It was a fantastic weekend for all the swimmers and volunteers involved. For many taking part, it was the first time at a national event of this size and to see so many personal bests as well as a couple of British records broken just shows how important these championships are for their development. The support from Swim England, Everyone Active and SOS systems has been invaluable.”

Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, said:

“We are very pleased to be able to support this event. It is important that all our talented young swimmers have the opportunity to compete in national championships.”

Full competition results are available online at Read the entire article here.

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

Women’s Sport Week, Disabled Women’s personal stories…an inspiration

Its women’s sport week and here at GYA we have met some amazing disabled women who find getting active and participation in sport and other physical activities  not only healthy but also as a way of challenging society to think differently about disabled women and appreciate the vast diversity that exist in our communities.

The following experiences and stories inspire us and we would love to share them with you again…enjoy!

why horse are my therapy

always exercise-sometimes sport



Women’s Sport Week 2017

Monday 19 June 2017

Women’s Sport Week (19-25 June) aims to bring everybody involved with playing, delivering, leading or working in sport together; to celebrate, raise awareness and increase the profile of women’s sport across the UK.

So why should Get Yourself Active, an organisation that is trying to get more disabled people to take up physical activity and sport care about Women’s Sports Week? Well, there are so many comparisons that can be drawn between disability and women’s sport, and so many ways in which disabled women can be ‘doubly marginalised’.

The latest Active Lives Survey states that 51% of disabled people with 3 or more impairments, 41% with 2 impairments and 34% with 1 impairment are inactive compared to 21% non-disabled people. 27% of women are inactive compared to 24% of men.

Inactivity rates by number of impairments

There are 13.3 million disabled people living in the UK: 7% of children are disabled, 18% of working age adults are disabled and 44% of pension age adults are disabled. This means that disabilities are often acquired as we age.

We already know that if people are encouraged to be active from a young age, then they are more likely to stay active growing up. From childhood boys will often be encouraged to play sport by those around them, yet this is not true for girls. This leads to fewer girls taking up physical activity in their early years and consequently are even less likely to take up physical activity in later life. Even more troubling is that this lack of encouragement to take up physical activity is worse for disabled girls who are even less likely to be presented with the opportunity to take up physical activity.

It is not always straight forward. Just because you may have been active as a child does not mean you will still be active all throughout adulthood. We are active during different stages of our life, and we drop out and take up physical activity at different times, often at significant times in our lives. Considering the majority of people who are classified as disabled have acquired their impairment and were not born with it, it is sometimes this acquirement of an impairment that could (temporarily) stop them from being active. If they were not active before then they are going to be even less likely to take up an activity after they’ve acquired that disability than if they were already active prior to the incident.

What Sways Women to Play Sport, Women in Sport

The media has a big role to play in encouraging both women and disabled people to take up physical activity and sport. There is a huge lack of media coverage for women as well as for disabled people in terms of celebrating their successes. Research by Women in Sport found that only 7% of all sports coverage was about women, and research by the English Federation of Disability Sport states that “disabled adults report seeing coverage of sport and physical activity for disabled people less frequently than they see coverage of non-disability sport”. If people want to see coverage of disability sport, they often have to actively search for it, whereas “non-disability sport it is difficult to avoid due to its presence on mainstream television channels and in newspapers”. The more we see disability and women’s sport on TV and in print media the more visible positive role models are.

On a wider scale, there are different barriers affecting women and men. As it stands women are already paid less than men, and disabled women are less likely to be hired than disabled men. Women therefore have fewer financial resources to support themselves, and spending time and money on physical activity and sport will not be a priority.

We have found as part of our Get Yourself Active research that it is not just a case of disabled people not wanting to take up physical activity or sport, but there is a their lack of knowledge of what provision there is. Click here for more information on how to get active in your local area.

To show our support for getting more women active we will be sharing our favourite personal experience blogs from women throughout Women’s Sports Week on Twitter. Follow us @GetYrselfActive. #WSW2017

Did you know that if you are disabled you are half as likely to be active as a non-disabled person?

Friday 16 June 2017

We’re getting more disabled people active by providing one to one support from a mentor who is themselves a disabled person.

This is part of the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Peer Support project which is all about disabled (and non-disabled) people taking part in fun, inclusive activities together in their local area.

Working with a mentor can be life-changing – it boosts confidence, helps people to find new solutions to problems and reduces isolation.

Here is one of our mentors Morris meeting his mentee Stephen for the first time. They’ll be working to get Stephen more active and boosting his confidence.

Read more here.

“I know I need help with motivation. I think Morris’ enthusiasm will be brilliant. We have the same sense of humour and, as cheesy as it sounds, I think he’ll actually make fitness fun! I’m really looking forward to having fun together.”

Morris said:

“I think Stephen will really help me, as mentor I know I’ll learn from him.”

Why is this important? Lots of work has been done looking at why getting active can help disabled people improve their health and wellbeing but this new project gives disabled people an extra boost by providing a mentor who themselves has lived experience of living with a disability or health condition- this is known as peer-support or buddying.

They can share experiences, skills and find ways to remove some of the barriers that stop them being active- things like low confidence, not knowing what activity is right for them or where to go to find accessible activities or leisure centres. This project can help remove these and more barriers to being active.

What are you waiting for?

Get support to get active  

Become a mentor

Find out more here.

Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is an exciting new programme that supports disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together.

If you have any questions or wish to register your interest,  contact Kate Pieroudis (Peer Support Lead) at Disability Rights UK:

Telephone: 0207 250 8111


InstructAbility: Fitness industry training for disabled people

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Are you disabled? Do you live in Rotherham? Ever thought about being a gym instructor?

Click on image to enlarge

Click here to view the flyer

What is the instructability programme?

  • It is a FREE Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Exercise and Disability Course with an Industry Placement.
  • It is for disabled people who are age 16 and over.
  • We are looking for people who can use their own experience of overcoming barriers to exercise and improving physcal function and/or mental health, to inspire and support other disabled people to exercise.

For more details visit the InstructAbility website or email

More like this:

Ever thought about being a gym instructor?

Aspire’s InstructAbility Programme in The Charity Awards 2017 Shortlist 

Incorporating an Open-Minded Approach to Riding, with Accessibility Mark

Tuesday 13 June 2017

A Hampshire equestrian centre has become the latest riding establishment to sign up to a national scheme to encourage more disabled people to take up riding.

Russells Equestrian Centre based in Eastleigh is honoured to have met the criteria set out by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), to gain their Accessibility Mark accreditation.

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

The British Horse Society, Association of British Riding Schools and The Pony Club approved centre specialises in group and individual tuition for riders of all abilities, using ethical and holistic training methods, to enable clients to be the best rider that they can be.

With an open-minded approach incorporating traditional and innovative riding methodologies, such as Clicker Training, Intelligent Horsemanship, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Ride with Your Mind, and Equine Assisted Learning, Russells Equestrian Centre was already welcoming clients with both physical and learning disabilities.

The centre is also home to The Epona Trust, a non-profit making organisation which specialises in the rescue and rehabilitation of horses and ponies. Part of the rehabilitation process for Epona horses and ponies includes working with special needs groups of adults or children. These sessions can involve riding or ‘contact’ work, as part of Equine Assisted Learning.

Proprietor Carol Boulton, who founded the centre in 1974, found out about the Accessibility Mark scheme through her own long-standing association with RDA. She hopes the new accreditation will be seen as a stamp of approval and an acknowledgment that their standards and training are exacting of those expected by such a well-respected organisation.

Carol said:

“I hope to encourage more groups to come along and enjoy the benefits that riding can offer, with our new facilities including a club room. My vision is to dip into the idea of riding as a recreational activity. More cream teas and pony rides as opposed to the belief that it is all about serious training.

“In the long term I would like our centre to be seen as a real community asset, where clients can enjoy horses on an informal basis, whilst also providing a challenge for those with more severe disabilities.”

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

Read Britta’s blog, ‘Why horses are my therapy

Success for Inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance classes launch

Tuesday 13 June 2017

On Saturday 10 June 2017, Step Change Studios launched its inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance classes at the Abbey Centre in London.

The launch class was a fantastic start to the summer term course, with many wheelchair participants ranging from professional and competitive dancers to people who were dancing for the first time. The classes provided many previously sporty participants with the chance to get active again.

The first class covered Waltz and Cha Cha. Rashmi said:

“Everyone was amazing – they followed well, had great energy and worked well as a group as we changed partners throughout the session.”

It would be great to see as many wheelchair users as possible interested in dance join the class – and to bring friends and other people they think will be interested in being standing partners. It’s a great way to be active and creative, and it can be enjoyed as a social, fun experience or as a way to perform and compete for people that want an athletic, progressive pathway.

After the first class one participant said:

“It was great to see what we could do with our wheelchairs, and fun to learn different dances. The teacher noticed when people needed assistance.”

There are only five more classes (last class July 15th) until a Summer break but classes will return in the Autumn.

View the video from last week’s class.