Get yourself active blog

parkrun UK teaming up with disability organisations will be great as well

Friday 22 June 2018

By Iyiola Olafimiyan

parkrun are doing great things across the world and in the UK. Evidence shows their well-run weekend activities in parks across the country have benefited many people – including disabled people.

Runners at parkrun

The organisation is teaming up with royal college of GPs and getting GP surgeries to encourage their patients, staff and carers to get active. This is a positive development and, as this article highlights, will save the NHS loads of money.

However, running and other physical activities bring more than just medical or wellbeing benefits to disabled people.

Whilst the good people at parkrun are doing great things getting more people running in parks across the country, it would be good if they could start forming alliances with projects and organisations that embed their practices in the social model of disability and equality.

‘Disability’ from the social model perspective is about an activity or environment that has been planned without involving disabled people.

We at GYA endorse this partnership with the GPs and the Royal College and indeed many disabled people will often visit their surgeries as patients. However, developing partnerships with organisations that speak up for disabled people and linking them in a 3 way relationship with GPs will have an impact that goes far beyond just organising events in parks.

The partnership will benefit everyone. Doctors and other health related professionals will understand the importance of listening to disabled people and not just making assumptions. Volunteers and organisers of park runs will understand that different impairment groups have different access needs and work with their organisations to offer practical solutions to these needs.

Finally, disabled people themselves will feel empowered and valued. They will not necessarily view themselves as patients who are always sick, but ordinary citizens who value the health and wellbeing benefits of being part of a community of active people in their local parks.

In other news: Disability Rights UK’s challenge to the tech industry- how tech can get more disabled people moving!

Disability Rights UK’s challenge to the tech industry- how tech can get more disabled people moving!

Tuesday 19th June 2018

“Disabled people are the experts in what they can and can’t do. It’s about involving them at the initial stages of an idea”

Our Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Peer Support Lead, Kate Pieroudis was guest speaker and panel debate member for FutureFit– a one day event looking at how the tech industry can get more people active. This is one of many events happening as part of London Tech Week.

We talked about some of the challenges the Get Out Get Active Peer Support Project faced around linking disabled people with one another to offer support and how the tech industry can help us capture the process of change for someone when they get more active, things like increase in confidence and better mental well being. This helps us to show the impact of our work and the positive changes that projects like Get Out Get Active can have to transform someone’s life.

One of our star mentors on the Get Out Get Active Peer Support Programme, Lindsay Swain, was also a guest speaker sharing experiences supporting a mentee, Henrietta to get more active. Lindsay has also recently developed a health condition herself so has a really unique perspective of someone who was really active but now due to rheumatoid arthritis needs to re-think how she exercises

“Flexibility is really important, I sometimes need to cancel a class on the day due to pain, I don’t like being charged fees for doing this. Could there be an app that knows I have an account linked to having a disability? Also, class passes are a great idea, buying a set number of classes so not being charged monthly membership fees”

We know that not many fitness related apps or websites are designed with disabled people in mind and that this can lead to apps that don’t meet the needs of disabled people. Also, we’re used to seeing images of disabled people as Paralympians- something that doesn’t resonate with many disabled people.

Our main message was that disabled people and people with health conditions need to be properly consulted with from the very start of design of websites, apps and other innovative platforms and be involved at all stages from design and delivery all the way to evaluation so they actually work for disabled people. This would generate huge income for developers to reach this untapped market of people who don’t have apps or platforms specifically aimed at them.

More than this, more support and resources need to be channeled to support disabled people to take up jobs in the tech sector.

We’ve since been approached by tech companies who want to find out more about how disabled people and Disability Rights UK can get involved with their work building apps designed to get people more active. Watch this space for more!

Find out more about Get Out Get Active and Peer Support here: or for more information, contact on 07715 960710

Read Lindsay’s blog about being a volunteer mentor here:

In other news: Why do we push so hard for disabled people to become more physically active. Look at our why get active page? to find out!

National Award For Trust’s Mental Health Project

Thursday 14th June 2018

Chester FC Community Trust has received a national award for its work supporting men who have experienced mental health problems.

The charity won the Best Health Project category in the 2018 National League Trust Community Awards, which celebrate the impact of clubs across the three divisions of the National League in their communities.

Chester FC Mental Health & Wellbeing is a partnership between Chester FC Community Trust, forfutures, which provides homeless support services across Cheshire West and Chester, and the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living through the Get Yourself Active project.

Weekly football training sessions take place at the Northgate Arena and a team representing Chester FC competes in the Cheshire Ability Counts Football League with participants invited to attend Chester FC matches as a reward for their involvement in the project.

The project helps to reduce the social isolation people with mental health problems can experience, offering participants opportunities to make friends and keep fit in a welcoming environment and talk about their problems without stigma, seek advice and access additional support.

In addition to physical health benefits, evidence shows regular exercise is beneficial for mental health and well-being too, helping to reduce stress and anxiety, increase self-esteem and reduce risk of depression.

Lee Gregg, who lives in Blacon, is a regular at the sessions and has captained the team, who completed a Cheshire Ability Counts League and Cup double this season and won the Cheshire round of the FA People’s Cup.

He said: “I first started going to the sessions about three or four months ago and I absolutely love it.

“I’ve always wanted to play for Chester FC and now I’ve got that opportunity. It means a lot to me to be able to play for the club and they’ve been great in inviting us to matches.

“My fitness has improved and I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since I started. I feel better in myself and I feel more confident.

“I didn’t know any of the other lads when I went to my first session but they are a great bunch. We have a good laugh, I’ve met some new people and they’ve become good mates.

“We help each other out. If one of us has had a tough week or something then the rest of us can pick up on that and we make sure they’re okay. The football helps because you can be feeling a little bit low before the session and by the end of it your mood can be a lot better.”

Levi Lloyd, of forfutures, has been involved in the project from the outset and manages the team.

He said: “I have seen first-hand the difference this project has made and how much pride the lads take in being associated with Chester FC.

“From a group of individuals who didn’t know each other and who each has their own issues to face, the lads have become a real team and are now friends who support each other on the football pitch and in everyday life.

“I have been really impressed at how much they have learned about team spirit and achievement. Their attitudes have been first class and they are a brilliant group of lads to work with.”

Jim Green, chief executive of Chester FC Community Trust, said: “We are thrilled to receive this award and grateful to the National League Trust for their recognition and continued support of our programme.

“It is extremely rewarding to see the positive impact it is having on the participants and demonstrates how football has the potential to change lives.”

Thomas Bell, Get Yourself Active coordinator for Cheshire Centre for Independent Living, said: “This project has been a great success and highlights the importance of partnership working in order to create new, fulfilling activities for service users.

“The Get Yourself Active project’s main aim is to give anyone, no matter what their background, age or ability, an opportunity to take part in a meaningful sport or physical activity opportunity across Cheshire.”

In other news: Congratulations Chester FC Charitable Trust! To find out more about Cheshire Centre for Independent Living go to this section of Our partners page.

Activity Alliance releases Ten Principles film

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Activity Alliance, supported by Sport England, has today released the Ten Principles film to guide providers to deliver more appealing and inclusive opportunities. If embedded within planning and delivery, the principles can be the vital ingredient for delivering activities that will support disabled people to be and stay active for life.

The first in a series of films on the ten principles, it introduces viewers to the approaches which together can drive awareness, engage, support and reassure participants. Activity Alliance chose to work again with Fuzzy Duck, a creative agency, to devise and script a new style film.

Kris Saunders-Stowe, a fitness instructor and a wheelchair user, presents the film in a variety of sporting settings. Other people with impairments and long-term health conditions support him to explain the principles in more detail. From a sunny afternoon at a Salford Wheels for All cycling session to a cold morning running on Southport Promenade, the film captures the principles in the real life environment.

In October 2014, Activity Alliance (under its former name the English Federation of Disability Sport) released the Talk to Me report. This report outlines ten principles developed with disabled people that sports providers should follow to help make their activities more appealing.

The report and its principles have been key pieces for Activity Alliance. Not only are they now widely used across the sector and at the heart of new programmes like Get Out Get Active, the principles were positively referenced in the Government’s 2015 strategy, Sporting Future.

Presenter Kris said about the film:
“I was delighted to be asked to take the lead in this film as the subject is something very close to my heart. In my experience, simple changes in the way we perceive people and their needs can easily remove barriers, providing equality and access to all.

“I hope viewers will take the information in the film and apply it to their own work. It doesn’t need to be a daunting or complicated exercise to move forward and embrace our multi-ability society.”

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for Activity Alliance:
“Whilst many providers already offer opportunities for disabled people to take part, the high number of disabled people who are inactive remains a major cause for concern. Disabled people told us that, too often, they are unaware of opportunities available to them or said that what is offered is not appealing or accessible enough.

“This film gives us an understanding of how we can all make opportunities attractive and inclusive. What’s clear from our experience of applying the principles is that they can be adapted to all audiences but include some considerations which are particularly important to successfully engaging disabled people.”

Sport England’s Executive Director Mike Diaper said:
“We’re proud to support the creation of this film highlighting how the barriers that can deter disabled people from playing sport or being active can be removed. Everyone who works in the sports and activity sector needs to watch it and then put the simple and practical principles into action.”

You can view the Ten Principles film here.

Find more information on Activity Alliance on

In other news: Do look at the Ten Principles film, as well as our own films about getting active.



Activity Alliance launches new Inclusive Activity Programme supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England

Friday 8 June 2018

Activity Alliance is delighted to announce the launch of the brand new Inclusive Activity Programme (IAP). The announcement comes during Coaching Week (4-10 June) after a successful application to Sport England which will see £450,000 of National Lottery funding dedicated to the programme. Over three years, the programme will engage key groups in specialised training with the aim to increase the number of active disabled people across England.


Activity Alliance, UK Coaching and Sport England have come together to build on the success of the programme’s predecessor, the Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training. IAP will equip people with the skills to engage disabled people and people with long-term health conditions more effectively in activities. It will provide a unique opportunity to improve significantly the confidence and competence of the coaching family, local community activators and health care professionals to deliver inclusive activity.

Statistics show that disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people. However, there is significant unmet demand with research showing that seven in ten disabled people want to be more active.

Over three years, the Inclusive Activity Programme will deliver over 600 practical tailored face-to-face workshops and provide access to ongoing learning and development opportunities for 8,500 individuals. This support package will enable participants to develop their coaching skills and confidence continually. Ultimately, trainees will be empowered to tailor their own delivery to a variety of different audiences.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for Activity Alliance, said:

“We are very excited about this new enhanced programme and the impact it will have across the country. This funding from Sport England’s National Lottery will enable us to build on our learning from previous work.

“We know there are groups of people who have greater influence on how active we are or want to be. IAP will target these individuals to make a real difference to the lives of people who are not currently active. The aim is to ensure that disabled people have more opportunities to be active for life.”

Sport England’s Executive Director Mike Diaper, said:

“Our research shows that disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive which means they’re missing out on a wealth of physical and mental health benefits. Many disabled people want to be active but can be put off by things such as a lack of opportunities and the right support. Sport England are delighted to be providing National Lottery funding for the Inclusive Activity Programme, which will train coaches, local community activators and health care professionals so they can offer disabled people strong support and help build their confidence about getting active.”

Mark Gannon, Chief Executive Officer of UK Coaching, said:

“One of the greatest skills any coach can have is that of adaptability. The ability of a coach to make changes, in situ, to ensure more people are able to take part in a sport or physical activity is key if we want an active nation. UK Coaching is delighted to be working in partnership with the Activity Alliance to support coaches to deliver great experiences for all.”

In line with the Coaching Plan for England’s definition of coaching, IAP partners recognise that there are a range of individuals who can play a key part in supporting sport and active recreation.

The programme targets three different sectors. These enable us to reach an extensive number of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions:

  1. Coaches / traditional physical activity deliverer family (including; qualified sports coaches, activators, sport leaders, outdoor recreation deliverers, personal trainers / fitness instructors)
  2. Local community activators (working for example in disabled people’s organisations, community interest charities, housing sector and scout/guide groups )
  3. Health and care professionals (including; occupational therapists, physiotherapists, care workers and support workers)

The training will cost a maximum of £20 for participants to attend (subsidies may apply) and will enable them to:

  • Learn about practical tools to support inclusive delivery
  • Explore creative ideas to support disabled people to take part in sport and activity
  • Access a range of resources to support delivery of activity sessions beyond the workshop. Also, to ask questions, share ideas, network with others and receive additional online support and mentoring
  • Learn about local opportunities, organisations and further training both for themselves and the disabled people they support

To ensure maximum impact of the programme, Activity Alliance and UK Coaching aim to work closely with the County Sports Partnership network and other identified national partners. These include National Governing Bodies of sport, MIND, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and the Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists.

We are keen to hear from anyone who would like to be part of this programme as an individual or an organisation. Please contact or call 01509 227753.

Find more information on Activity Alliance on our website

In other news:  Disability Rights UK and Activity Alliance have worked in partnership to create a resource providing information on: Supporting disabled people to be active using personal budgets.

UKSA announce British Team heading to Paris for first Inas European Summer Games

Friday 8th of June

Britain’s best athletes cross the channel in July to take on some of the World’s best at the inaugural Inas Summer Games as part of the UK Sports Association (UKSA) Great Britain Team.  

UKSA is proud to announce its athletics, cycling and swimming Teams, with further announcements in Tennis, in collaboration with the Tennis Foundation to follow. 

British representation spans the 4 sports of athletics, cycling, tennis and swimming and includes previous internationals Declan Manning and Nathan Fleetwood as well as six others making their GB international debuts for UKSA.

Supported by a dedicated team of coaching professionals, expectations are high as athletes continue to prepare to demonstrate their sporting prowess.

Tracey McCillen, Chief Executive, UK Sports Association comments  “We really have seen some excellent performances from the British Team already” comments

“We set competitive standards for the event and this has without a doubt shown that British athletes are ready to rise the challenges that this performance environment will throw at them”.

“The Inas Summer Games will be challenging, but we have selected a Team of strong talented athletes who are ready to do the job. We have a dedicated group of coaches supporting the Team and I am delighted that one of those coaches is a former Paralympian who started his career as an Inas competitor. Congratulations to all athletes and coaches on their selection to the UKSA GB Team.”

The UK Sports Association (UKSA) is the only official Great Britain member of Inas, the International Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment, Down syndrome and autism.

Hosted by Fédération Française du Sport Adapté on behalf of Inas Europe, the Inas Summer Games will take place in Paris, France from 14 July to 22 July 2018.  With 9 sports in contention, it is expected that over 1000 participants will take part.

The Championships will incorporate the Inas European Championships in Athletics and Swimming and the Inas World Championships in Cycling and Tennis.

In other news DR UK  is now recruiting runners for the Great North Run 2018

Disability Rights UK reacts to Professor Bevans comments on obese workers

Friday 8 June 2018

On Monday 25 June. The Daily Mirror reported that Professor Bevan, head of HR research at Institute for Employment Studies had remarked that obese workers should be allowed to turn up late and be protected under anti discrimination law.

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said that idea was ludicrous. Obese people do actually have some protection under European worker discrimination law  where obesity leads you to have physical, mental or psychological impairments, which could affect your work. Your employer should make reasonable adjustments in this case and you could make a claim for discrimination at an employment tribunal if adjustments are not considered or made.

Unfortunately no mention was made of encouraging obese people to get active. Disability Rights UK is committed to promoting greater activity and wellbeing for disabled people via our Get Yourself Active programme and our involvement in the Get Out Get Active programme.  And while we’re supportive of any approaches that improve attitudes towards disabled people, including people who develop health conditions and disabilities through obesity, we feel strongly that Professor Bevans proposals should not be considered in isolation. Instead we should ensure that there is a joined up approach to dealing with the negative effects caused by obesity, including through peer support (disabled people supporting other disabled people to become active) and greater use of personal budgets by disabled people to take part in physical activity. And particularly as according to the latest biannual Active Lives Survey by Sport England 43% of disabled people are classed as inactive, something that is one of the lead causes of obesity.

We also advocate greater investment and wider promotion of Access to Work as it provides support to meet some of the adjustments required by disabled employees.

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

Great North Run Half Marathon 2018- Run for Disability Rights UK

Tuesday 5 June 2018

DR UK is now recruiting runners for the Great North Run 2018 and we need you! Taking place on the 9th September 2018, it’s officially the world’s biggest half marathon!

Are you eager to make a difference? Ready to make a change for the people with disabilities across to 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 disabled people across the UK. We receive no government funding for our core work so the money raised really does make a difference!

Join #teamDRUK and apply to take part in the half marathon today!

If you would like to apply, please email to request an application form- final deadline for applications is 29th June 2018.

REGISTRATION FEE: £50 *fully refunded if you reach minimum target or over*

In other news: For more information about Disability Rights UK and our partners please go to this web page.

Long Lane Equestrian Centre Gains Accessibility Mark

Tuesday 5 January 2018

Long Lane Equestrian Centre, based in Derby has signed up to a national scheme to encourage more disabled riders to take up horse riding.

Long Lane Equestrian Centre proprietor Sally Warwick

Following an appeal by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) for more centres to apply for the Accessibility Mark accreditation to help meet demand in the North Midlands area, the centre decided to jump on board. A study by the RDA found that this region has the highest level of unmet demand amongst disabled riders than anywhere else in the UK.

The RDA, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

After receiving information about the scheme, proprietor, Sally Warwick was prompted to consider the accreditation having wrongly assumed that it wouldn’t be possible to offer their services to disabled riders, thinking the centre’s facilities and horses and ponies wouldn’t be suitable.

Said Sally: “Through Accessibility Mark we have come to realise that we can facilitate disabled riders. The training provided by RDA has given us tremendous confidence in the suitability of our horses and changed our expectations about what is required to teach disabled riders.

“The staff found the training empowering, having been slightly daunted to start with, but with help from the Accessibility Support Officer (ASO) they were educated on how to support riders without the need for lots of complicated equipment and how to make lessons engaging and fun.”

Located on the border of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, the centre is easily accessible to riders from all over the North Midlands area, and provides lessons for riders of all abilities, using their fantastic facilities that include an all-weather arena.

“We look forward to opening up our friendly centre to a wider range of clients.” added Sally.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the 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.
For further information contact Long Lane Equestrian Centre on 01509 674655 or Like the Long Lane Equestrian Facebook Page.

There are currently 49 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

In other news: Congratulations to Long Lane Equestrian Centre! To find out how you can get active in your local area please gohere.

England Netball Needs You!

Tuesday 5 June 2018

England Netball are looking for individuals with a hearing impairment to be a part of a deaf netball pilot at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield on Sunday the 15th July.

Over the next year, England Netball will be working with UK Deaf Sport to develop a deaf netball classification and we need your help!

At the pilot, we will be looking at a range of things to develop such as coaching, match play and the rules and regulations. If you have a hearing impairment and want to be part of the pilot then email: to register your interest. We are looking for a range of ages and hearing impairments

Also if you are a teacher or have an expertise and would like to get involved in helping shape the sport then please register your interest too.

Date: Sunday July 15th, 2018

Venue: English Institute of Sport, Sheffield

Entry Deadline:  Sunday June 22nd, 2018

Price: Free

In other news: In Yorkshire? the Special Olympic Coaching Bursary Scheme is now open until 11th June. 

Get yourself volunteering

Friday 1 June 2018

It is Volunteers Week’ folks and Get Yourself Active (GYA)’s long term volunteer, Iyiola shares his experience so far volunteering at GYA.

“Volunteering for me is about making connections, updating and acquiring new skills and getting up and physically travelling out to make a difference”

In my last blog about volunteering, I mentioned I started a part time role that keeps me busy two and a half days a week. But I continued volunteering because I just don’t want to sit around doing nothing for the rest of the week.

I have been volunteering at GYA for close to 16 months – wow! Time does fly and it is incredible to see the massive changes that have occurred since I joined the team. The GYA project was so successful Sport England decided to extend their investment further, meaning I get to continue volunteering and enjoying working with the team. The GYA project has a new team member who now does a lot of the communication stuff, L-Boss is off on maternity leave leaving K-boss temporarily in charge.

In my sixteen months as a volunteer I have seen the team move from East Road to Disability Rights UKs (DRUK) new office at Stratford. It means it takes me more time to get to the new office, but my travel is covered by the project as well as lunch. I miss the old office though; I miss the chap at reception who I got on well with, we both use to discuss old politics and the weather, for a non-African and he was very good at pronouncing my name accurately! I also miss the occasional old Arsenal versus Spurs banter with a particular chap who worked for another organisation at the old office, but thankfully we moved before the season ended as he would have had a lot of fun having one over me since Spurs ended the season better than Arsenal. Finally, I miss the full house we use to have there, in the new DRUK office staff often work from home because of the new modern way of hotdesking which means everyone cannot be in the office at the same time.

So, the new office and my take on it. It’s a cool place. Hotdesking reduces costs for DR UK and you are in this very accessible space (I say accessible tongue in cheek because accessibility means different things to different impairment groups) where different organisations and companies co-exist together. There are long large corridors and the view of the carnal is stunning. You are in a sort of modern tech town and lots of fancy stuff surrounding you – it’s good that a disability organisation exists there though because it keeps DR UK in touch with current trends in the tech world. It also gives these new tech organisations and their staff an opportunity to engage with a disabled people’s user led organisation and see disability from a more positive perspective.

In addition to what I normally do I participated in a research project that GYA is running with the University of Birmingham on inclusive and accessible information for disabled people who might want to be more active.  This involved attending a focus group where participants assessed and advised the research lead about the information they were developing for Public Health England. I enjoyed the experience and felt I was part of a noble cause that will make information about exercise and physical activities more accessible to disabled people. I also transcribed for Kate on the Get Out Get Active project. I listened to (felt like eavesdropping to people having a conversation!) her group of mentees  giving feedback on their experiences about being mentored to participate in sport. The experience honed my listening skills and possibly made me more patient!

In conclusion I see myself volunteering for a long time here at GYA, possibly till the end of the project unless my time is fully taken up by my other activities or if I start working full time. I enjoy volunteering and have been doing it since the 1990s. I understand not every disabled person can physically go out and volunteer like me, however if it’s possible everyone should volunteer one way or the other. Many charities (including some user-led organisations) now encourage remote volunteering (volunteering from home online) and I will encourage our readers whether disabled or not to volunteer in any way they can. The world needs your lived experience and skills and you can mentor or inspire someone too, it’s about being active folks and about getting yourself volunteering.

Happy Volunteers Week!

In other news: Nice blog post Iyiola! For more blogs from him click here

New Limitless Free Trainer gains IFI equipment accreditation

1 June 2018

Two years ago Limitless Gym Equipment set out on a mission to create a multi-functional training system that was accessible by everyone. They had a vision of a machine that offered the benefits of functional training to anyone regardless of their experience level. This is when the concept of the Limitless Free Trainer (LFT) was born.

Mark Ormrod, Ex Royal Marine and triple amputee on The Limitless Free Trainer

Activity Alliance (formerly English Federation of Disability Sport) is delighted to now welcome the Limitless Free Trainer onto its list of IFI accredited products.

Inclusive Features

The LFT’s main feature is its two loading arms – utilised for the majority of its exercises. Made from machined stainless steel, they are extremely durable and able to withstand massive amounts of pressure. The arms are mounted to the frame with a bearing system that allows a fluidity of movement which replicates that of a kettlebell or barbell depending on the exercise. By placing the arms at different heights a wide variety of exercises can be performed. Additional weight can be added via either a sliding mass mechanism or free weight plates.

Dawn Hughes, National Partnerships Advisor (Leisure Sector) for Activity Alliance said:

“The Limitless Free Trainer is a very versatile product with a range of accessible features. For example, the ability to perform multiple exercises on one product will appeal to people with limited mobility and those who find navigating the gym floor difficult. The ergonomically designed handles move to alleviate stress in the wrists during exercise and the sliding mass alternative for the weight plates will also support use by those with reduced hand or arm dexterity.

“Disabled people are twice as likely to be physically inactive as non-disabled people. It is therefore vital that the leisure sector and its suppliers are focused on reaching this market. Limitless Gym Equipment have worked hard to create a product with universal appeal and we look forward to working with them to help get more disabled people active!”

To increase its versatility further the LFT has been designed to incorporate battle ropes, resistance bands, stability balls and suspension training rigs. The result is a product able to adapt to new users through to elite athletes, whether it be for a fighter, bodybuilder or use in a functional circuit/WOD.

Glen Davis, CEO at Limitless Gym Equipment commented:

“Receiving IFI Equipment Accreditation has been the pinnacle of this machines achievements so far. The LFT is the only plate loaded machine ever to achieve this so naturally we were blown away when we found out. We are now pushing to get the LFT into the facilities where users will benefit from the accessibility of such a versatile machine.”

For more information on, visit Limitless Gym Equipment or find our more on the Inclusive Fitness Initiative programme.

In other news: Simone Illger, aged 55 shares her experiences of discovering the benefits of exercise

Get Yourself Active goes to a summit in order to make some sporting sense.

Thursday 31 May 2018

It’s always interesting to see what other charities are doing when it comes to helping disabled people get physically active.  So on Wednesday 23rd  May Leo Capella, Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active took a short walk across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the Lee Valley Velodrome to go to the Sporting Sense Summit. At the summit, Sense (a charity that works with people with complex communication needs) revealed their findings from their flagship project Sporting Sense. Leo shares his thoughts on the Summit and what happened when he got to do some inclusive cycling….

Figure 1 The view from inside the Lee Valley (Olympic) Velodrome. What’s not featured in this photo is some cyclists who were doing training while the summit was going on.

What came out of the summit was how much that physical activity makes sense for disabled people. And not just because of the benefits that physical activity can provide for our own physical and mental health. It also helps disabled people integrate in society as I found out through the speeches that were made during the summit. In fact, according to a report released by the Jo Cox commission on loneliness, half of non-disabled people don’t believe they have anything in common with disabled people. So including disabled people in physical activity helps actually integrate disabled people into society, among other benefits.
Also it was interesting to hear the speakers including Dame Tanni Grey Thompson whom having been a Paralympic Athlete had to get back to physical activity after getting out of shape, which is why aside from being an ambassador for Disability Rights UK she is now the chair of UKactive.

Also speaking was visually impaired rock climber John Churcher who had a wide and impressive array of achievements when it came to physical activity. This includes being the first person to Para climb the Eiger – a challenging mountain to climb.

Above all I suppose the biggest insight I got was just how many components or parts are needed for a successful project to work. From the planning with partners to making sure that there are good ways of evaluating the work. Positive outcomes from Sporting Sense over its two year existence included getting over 1000 disabled people physically active, upskilling (developing) over 250 workers in physical activity, well beyond the project’s initial expectations.
And at the end of the summit being one of those people who’s always up for trying something in the name of campaigning I got to ride a hand cycle which was part of an Inclusive Cycling session with an array of different bi- and tricycles.

Figure 2 Leo Capella riding a handcycle as part of an Inclusive Cycling session at the Sporting Sense Summit and having a lot of fun doing so.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when riding the bicycle using my hands to propel myself and steer it, however once explained to me was an easy thing to do. So I would recommend it to people who are not just physically disabled but people with neurological conditions who might feel that a bicycle is unstable for them and want to try something different. It was also a good arm strengthening exercise too. On an interesting side note, the day I went to the Summit was in the run up to the famous Indianapolis 500 motor race which involves cars racing around an oval circuit, something that 2012 Italian Paralympic Champion Alex Zanardi used to do. Although Zanardi never competed at Indy he raced a similar type of racing car on ovals, before a horrific accident in Germany saw both of his legs amputated. However after his accident, alongside continuing to race cars he took up hand-cycling and became a multiple Paralympic champion in the sport.

All in all the event was a positive one which I gained a lot of knowledge from. And aside from thanking Sense for inviting me to the summit I’d like to congratulate them on their achievements so far with Sporting Sense and wish them all the best for the next year of the project.

In other news: If you live in and around Wolverhampton and would like to try riding a adapted  bicycle or tricycle then there’s an opportunity to DO just that at an Inclusive Cycling try out day on Wednesday 6th June.

Basildon sets perfect example for increasing participation

A local project in Basildon has harnessed the positive influence that carers and supporters e.g. family members, day services, residential homes and paid support, can have on encouraging people with learning disabilities to become more active.

The ‘supporting me to be active’ pilot programme was launched in Basildon by inclusive sport organisation Sport For Confidence in partnership with Active Essex, the county sports partnership for Greater Essex.

Basildon was selected for the pilot district due to its high prevalence of people living with learning disabilities (3,358 people) in relation to levels of inactivity (28.7% of the Basildon population).

Lyndsey Barrett, co-founder of Sport For Confidence, said:

“We have identified that people living with learning disabilities tend to have small support circles, which often includes family members, friends and their carers.

“We have been working closely with those within these circles to raise awareness of the benefits of keeping active. We believe that these ‘support ambassadors’ have an important role to play to encourage and inspire more people with disabilities to engage with sport and physical activity.”

Several carers from local residential homes and support agencies and were selected to participate in the programme as ‘support ambassadors’. The organisations involved included Papworth Trust, Essex Cares Ltd (ECL), Anvil House and Nexus Support.

Occupational Therapists from Sport For Confidence worked closely with participants to understand the value of physical activity and what they see as potential barriers to increasing participation.

Findings showed that ambassadors were most concerned about transport costs, staffing and people’s perceptions of inclusive sport.

The programme encouraged them to think about how they could overcome these barriers with the people they support and develop a plan that will help them work towards a more active lifestyle.

Part of this planning involved a ‘supporting me to be active’ workshop, which educated participants of the benefits gained from keeping active, as well as highlighting opportunities to participate in inclusive sport and physical activity in the local area.

Karen Mannix, Local Business Manager at Essex Cares Ltd, said:

“The programme has helped us identify a clear pathway to providing more physical activities to clients under our care.

“Thanks to the programme, six individuals with learning disabilities are now taking part in at least one multi-sport session a week and we have seen tremendous benefits to the mental wellbeing of those involved. It’s great to see them enjoy themselves with their peers.”

Following on from the programme, four participants with learning disabilities themselves went on to become ‘All Together’ ambassadors to further inspire other disabled people to take part in sport and physical activity.

The All Together ambassador programme was launched by Active Essex to raise awareness of the opportunities, facilities and support available to increase participation in sport and physical activity.

Last year, Active Essex announced a four-year strategy to change one million lives to get Essex active. This included a key priority to improve health and wellbeing of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions which accounts for over 17% of the Greater Essex population.

Hayley Chapman, Relationship Manager – North Thematic Lead for Inclusion at Active Essex, said:

“The ‘supporting me to be active’ programme has shown how important the role of the carer is when encouraging people with learning disabilities to become more active.

“We hope that this model can continue to address some of the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities in participating in physical activities and the workshop can be replicated as good practice across other districts.”

Several carers from local residential homes and support agencies and were selected to participate in the programme as ‘support ambassadors’. The organisations involved included Papworth Trust, Essex Cares Ltd (ECL), Anvil House and Nexus Support.

Occupational Therapists from Sport For Confidence worked closely with participants to understand the value of physical activity and what they see as potential barriers to increasing participation.

Findings showed that ambassadors were most concerned about transport costs, staffing and people’s perceptions of inclusive sport.

The programme encouraged them to think about how they could overcome these barriers with the people they support and develop a plan that will help them work towards a more active lifestyle.

Part of this planning involved a ‘supporting me to be active’ workshop, which educated participants of the benefits gained from keeping active, as well as highlighting opportunities to participate in inclusive sport and physical activity in the local area.

Karen Mannix, Local Business Manager at Essex Cares Ltd, said:

“The programme has helped us identify a clear pathway to providing more physical activities to clients under our care.

“Thanks to the programme, six individuals with learning disabilities are now taking part in at least one multi-sport session a week and we have seen tremendous benefits to the mental wellbeing of those involved. It’s great to see them enjoy themselves with their peers.”

Following on from the programme, four participants with learning disabilities themselves went on to become ‘All Together’ ambassadors to further inspire other disabled people to take part in sport and physical activity.

The All Together ambassador programme was launched by Active Essex to raise awareness of the opportunities, facilities and support available to increase participation in sport and physical activity.

Last year, Active Essex announced a four-year strategy to change one million lives to get Essex active. This included a key priority to improve health and well-being of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions which accounts for over 17% of the Greater Essex population.

Hayley Chapman, Relationship Manager – North Thematic Lead for Inclusion at Active Essex, said:

“The ‘supporting me to be active’ programme has shown how important the role of the carer is when encouraging people with learning disabilities to become more active.

“We hope that this model can continue to address some of the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities in participating in physical activities and the workshop can be replicated as good practice across other districts.”

In other news: Saddle Up for Summer with Accessibility Mark


Surrey Wheels for All Sessional Positions

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Cycling Projects are now recruiting for a number of sessional staff to help to deliver a well-received inclusive cycling offer for the county of Surrey.

Covering regions: With particular focus in the West of the county (Woking) and in the East of the county (Epsom) with occasional delivery opportunities in other regions of Surrey

Part time hours to support the delivery of the Surrey Wheels for All programme.

Including weekday, evening and weekday activities. of hours between 5 and 12 hours per week. Rate of £10.75 per hour

Cycling Projects is pleased to announce the continued growth of the countywide Surrey Wheels for All programme, and we are keen to take the Wheels for All service to new and existing regions within Surrey. This is an exciting opportunity to join the country’s leading inclusive cycling charity with a strong focus on disability access, health improvement and social inclusion for all ages and abilities.

As Wheels for All sessional staff, you will be responsible for the delivery of the inclusive cycling sessions, engaging with existing participants and welcoming and supporting new participants to Wheels for All across Surrey. Initially this is a funded programme through to March 2021 with funding and investment from council partners and contributions from exiting participants and partners.

You will be a highly motivated individual with experience of working across a broad section of partners. You will ideally have experience of delivering community projects and had experience of working with people of all abilities/or previously worked for a charity. You will be enthusiastic, driven, well organised and able to embrace cycling as a credible and beneficial activity for people regardless of their ability.

Essentially, we want you to be a part of a solid movement of inclusive cycling activities across all regions of the county of Surrey. You will be part of an effective and exciting movement of bringing cycling to people across many locations regardless of their ability.

Application deadline is Tuesday 12th June 5pm 2018.

Interviews will be held week commencing 18th June 2018.

To apply, please request an application pack and return the application form along with your covering letter & email to

Surrey WFA sessional recruitment advert May 2018

Job-Description Surrey WFA Sessional staff

The original advert can be found here. 

In other news: Our Physical activity and sports info page can give you links to information from key organisations in the sport sector. 

Turn Up and Play Centre for Females OVER 16 Years Old with a Disability

Friday 18 May 2018

The Turn Up and Play Centre aims to give females with a disability the opportunity to play sport in a safe, supportive and tailored environment

Dates for the next sessions are:

  • Friday 25th May
  • Friday 1st June
  • Friday 8th June
  • Friday 15th June
  • Friday 22nd June
  • Friday 29th June

Venue = West Riding County Football Association, Fleet Lane, Woodlesford, Leeds, LS26 8NX

Time = 1pm-2pm

Cost = £3 per session

To participate send an email to request for registration and diversity forms.

In other news apply for special Olympic coach bursary scheme

Special Olympic Coach Bursary Scheme is now open

Friday 18 May 2018

The second round of Special Olympic Coach Bursary Scheme is now open until the 11th June.



The bursary is for £100.00 towards the cost of a level 1 or 2 Coaching Qualification and recipients will need to enhance current Special Olympic Provision within South/West Yorkshire or create new provision (with the support of the Network in either South/West Yorkshire).

The application form can be found here:

Activity Alliance seeks a new Chair

Thursday 17 May 2018

Since its founding in 1998 as the English Federation of Disability Sport, Activity Alliance has become the go-to organisation for information about disabled people’s engagement with sport and active recreation. Now, an exciting opportunity exists to become Chair of Activity Alliance and lead the organisation into a new era of innovation and growth.

For the last 20 years English Federation of Disability Sport, now Activity Alliance has been an integral part of the sport and activity landscape and promoted the interests of disabled people in sport and recreation.

Under the current Chair, Charles Reed, the charity has been at the forefront of supporting disabled people to be active for life by enabling organisations to support disabled individuals to be and stay active.

The organisation has increased its annual operating budget from £1m to £3m in the past five years, established a vibrant new corporate identity, and exceeded Code for Sports Governance requirements. The charity has major ambitions for significant growth.

Activity Alliance is now seeking to appoint a new Chair that embodies the charity’s vision – Disabled people are active for life – to lead the organisation through an exciting period of development and growth.

The Chair will be:

  • A connector, providing the link between the Board and the Executive, giving leadership and support to the Executive and the Leadership Team in the delivery of the strategic plan.
  • A team leader, providing leadership and direction to the Board enabling them to fulfil their responsibilities for the overall governance and strategic direction of Activity Alliance.
  • An ambassador, working with the Executive, to raise the external profile of Activity Alliance with relevant partners and bodies and increase their role and influence.


How to apply 

Activity Alliance has partnered with SRi, the leading executive search and consulting firm to support them in their search for a new Chair.

For more information about this role and details on how to apply, please visit the SRi website.

Closing date for applications is Friday 1 June 2018.

Download Activity Alliance Chair candidate pack.

Activity Alliance are very proud of their work in diversity and inclusion and encourage applications from disabled people and those with lived experience of disability.

Find out more about the charity’s work on Activity Alliance website

In other news: Activity Alliance are what’s known as a National Disability Sports Organisation (NDSO) but what does that term actually mean? Look at our glossary and find out! 

Kirklevington Riding Centre Encourages More Disabled People To Take To The Saddle

Tuesday 15 May 2018

A North Yorkshire equestrian centre is hoping to welcome more disabled riders to take to the saddle, after signing up to a national scheme.

Kirklevington Riding Centre, based in Yarm, has become an Accessibility Mark accredited centre after meeting the criteria set out by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

The RDA, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

A British Horse Society (BHS) approved centre, Kirklevington has been established for 38 years, providing riding lessons to two generations, from total beginners to riders looking to work towards a qualification.

The centre recognised an increase in demand from disabled riders, particularly those with autism.

Horse riding has many benefits for people on the autistic spectrum, including improved concentration and social interaction, learning to attend to their horse rather than reacting to the sounds and stimuli in a strange environment and adapting to changes of routine.

Jen Brooks, Chief Instructor at the centre said: “We applied for Accessibility Mark status for the benefit of the riders that were already regularly attending for lessons, and we hope that the accreditation will give new clients confidence in our abilities to meet their needs.

“All of our instructors found the training with the Accessibility Support Officer (ASO) extremely useful, reinforcing the strategies we were implementing during lessons and introducing new ideas to make lessons more engaging and ensure good practice.”

The new accreditation comes hot on the heels of the centre also becoming a BHS Training and Exam centre, further developing its expansion of services.

An Autism Awareness Charity Show recently held by the centre raised £350 and plans are underway to hold a similar fundraising Open Afternoon on Tuesday, May 29 between 1pm and 4pm.

During the Open Afternoon the centre will be promoting the RDA Qualifications that many of their riders are already working towards, as well as offering taster riding and grooming sessions.

Booking is not required, and all proceeds will be donated to The National Autistic Society.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the 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.

For further information contact Kirklevington Riding Centre on (01642) 791 027 or visit

There are currently 48 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

In other news: For more information on how you can get active in your local area please look at this web page.

Wheels for All Black Country inclusive cycling tryout day

Friday 11 May 2018

Wheels for All are pleased to announce there will be a try out day at Aldersley Stadium on Wednesday 6th June 2018


Come and enjoy inclusive cycling activities for all the family
regardless of ability. Try out a wide range of adapted cycles at Aldersley Stadium.

Come along as a group or an individual – all welcome.
Help bring regular inclusive cycling to Wolverhampton.

When and where

Date: Wednesday 6th June 10am TO 4:30pm

Venue: Aldersley Stadium, Wolverhampton, WV6 9NW

Further details please contact Ian Tierney on 01925 234213
or email on

In other news London vi sport and physical activity day


London VI Sport and Physical Activity Day

Friday 11 May 2018

FREE sports taster event in London for people with a visual impairment

Come along and enjoy an action packed inclusive day of tennis, zumba, football, goalball, climbing, cricket, gymnastics and much more!

This event is open to anyone with a visual impairment aged 8 and over, including friends and family ,sports fanatics or people just getting started. It’s fun for all ages, with a different activity timetables for children and adults on the day as well as gentle activities for those who want to take a slower pace.

The event organised by British Blind Sport, London Vision, Illuminate Fitness, the Royal Society for Blind Children and London Sport  will take place at Westway Sports Centre, London on Saturday 7th July 2018 from 10.30am to 4pm.

When and Where

Date: Saturday 7th July, 10.30am to 4pm

Venue: Westway Sports Centre, London W10 6RP

 Get Involved!

For further details please contact Alex Pitts, Participation Officer on telephone:  07929 356428 or email

Register online for the London VI Sport and Physical Activity Day

In other news Goalball uk unches national schools- competition programme



Saddle Up for Summer with Accessibility Mark

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Summer is the ideal time for new challenges. The long days and warm weather can help motivate anyone to get involved in a new sport or activity.

It has never been easier for disabled people to have a go at horse riding with 48 Accessibility Mark accredited centres up and down the country, providing riding opportunities for people with a range of physical and learning disabilities.

The RDA, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

Heading down to the stables is also more than just about the physical benefits that can be gained from regular sessions in the saddle. For many disabled people life can sometimes feel isolating, and while riding is very much about being at one with your horse and the sense of freedom it brings, it is also a time to meet up with other like-minded horse mad people.

Most Accessibility Mark sessions will be performed in a group, where friendships are formed, that are based on a foundation of a mutual love of horses and not on each individual’s disabilities.

This social interaction is also strongly linked with an improvement in confidence and self-esteem, providing a few hours to escape from their day to day challenges.

If you are looking to learn a new skill, while making some new friends, this summer contact your nearest Accessibility Mark centre to find out about the horse riding options available to you.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the 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.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit  

In other news: Bryerley Springs Equestrian Centre Gains Accessibility Mark Accreditation


English Federation of Disability Sport changes name to Activity Alliance

Thursday 26 April 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech4Good Award seeks accessible tech projects

21 April 2018

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

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

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

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

Lifelites CEO Simone Enefer-Doy, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re-creating London Marathon 2018 by Iyiola Olafimihan

Friday 20th April 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2oth April 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goalball UK launches National Schools Competition Programme

17th April 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commonwealth Games gold medalist cheers on future para-swimming stars

17th April 2018

Over 100 young para-swimming hopefuls from across the country showed form this weekend (14-15 April 2018) at the National Junior Para-Swimming Championships. Commonwealth Games’ champion, Alice Tai, fresh from her gold and silver medal success on the Gold Coast, cheered them on in Southampton.

Picture by Richard Blaxall/ – 14/04/2018 – Swimming – EFDS National Junior Para Swimming Champs – The Quays, Southampton, England – Louise Storey of Hoddesdon in action during the Women’s Open 100m Freestyle

The event saw swimmers aged between 10-18 years old compete in the short course event.

Amongst swimmers celebrating personal bests and medal winning performances, Colchester’s Ellie Challis broke a British record in the SB2 50m Breaststroke (classification for physical impairments). She bettered her own time last recorded at last year’s National Para-Swimming Championships in Manchester, with 1.15.57. She commented:

“I feel really good about beating my own record in the SB2 50m Breaststroke. However, my biggest achievement was knocking 10 seconds off my personal best in the 50m Backstroke.”

Competitors also had the opportunity to meet special guest Alice Tai. She joined a packed crowd after returning from a successful Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. There she won a gold in the S9 100m Backstroke and a silver in the S9 100m Freestyle. Tai began her competitive swimming career in this pool and went on to take part in this national junior event. This weekend’s swimmers were delighted to have her support. She commented:

“It’s really nice being back here at the Quays in Southampton. I remember having my first ever meet here back in 2010, so it was literally the very start of my journey.

“To be able to host events like the National Junior-Para Swimming Championships with so many young para-swimmers is really important. It makes everyone realise there is a community within para swimming and these young swimming hopefuls are experiencing their first steps into that.

“My advice to these junior para-swimmers would be to just enjoy it because nobody can take that away from you.”

Picture by Richard Blaxall/ – 14/04/2018 – Swimming – EFDS National Junior Para Swimming Champs – The Quays, Southampton, England – Local swimmer Alice Tai returns from the Commonwealth Games for England with a Gold Medal in the 100m Backstroke S10 and a Silver Medal in the 100m Freestyle S9

Para-swimmer Ellen Stephenson, one of the competitors from the weekend said:

“My Saturday afternoon swimming went much better than the morning as I wasn’t using all my power but overall I’m happy with my performance. I came away with four S14 group bronze medals and two personal bests!

“It’s really important to come to events like this one as it gives me a chance to show what I can do. I’ve also really enjoyed meeting other people. It was really good meeting Alice Tai. She gave me some really good advice and encouragement.”

The event, organised by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and supported by Swim England, was the first time Southampton hosted the event. The unique partnership between these two organisations aims to increase the opportunities and talent development of young disabled swimmers. Organisers were also proud to work with SOS as an event supporter.

EFDS is a national charity that exists to make active lives possible. Established in September 1998, EFDS has a vision that disabled people are active for life. Working towards this vision, EFDS enables organisations to support disabled individuals be and stay active.

Full competition results are available online at

In Other News:The 42nd Metro Athletics Open will be held at Mile End Stadium on Saturday 16th June

Disability and sport call for evidence

Friday 13 April 2018


West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has issued a call for evidence about disability and sport – in a bid to get people moving more on a daily basis.

The call – under the banner of the ‘West Midlands on the Move’ physical activity strategy – aims to ignite a social movement across the region with the long-term aim of making physical activity the norm.

It demonstrates the combined authority’s commitment to reducing the region’s current levels of physical inactivity and inequalities and harnessing the potential of physical activity to improve people’s quality of life.

The WMCA physical activity team is collaborating with disability and sport special interest organisations to understand what is needed to improve the life chances of disabled people in the West Midlands.

Ultimately the aim is to become an exemplar region for numbers of physically active disabled people.

The WMCA Disability and Physical Activity working group aims to produce a report for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor by July 2018, setting out recommendations on what is needed to achieve this ambition.

Physical activity strategic lead Simon Hall said:  “We know there is lots of good and promising practice in the region, but 30% of adults in the West Midlands are still physically inactive along with 48.9% of disabled adults.

“As well as collating good practice and gaining invaluable insight from disabled people, we are launching a Disability and Physical Activity Call for Evidence to inform how we tackle this issue.”

More information from Sue Parker on 0121 214 7802 / 07917 456866 /

In Other News: We have six partner organisations across England, including Disability Centre for Sheffield Independent Living.


Junior Para Swimmers splash out in Southampton this weekend

Tuesday 10th April 2018

This weekend (14-15 April 2018) will see over 100 young swimming hopefuls from across the country take part in the National Junior Para Swimming Championships. It will be the first time Southampton has hosted the event.

Photo credit: Cerebral Palsy Sport

Organised by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and supported by Swim England, the unique partnership aim is to increase opportunities and talent development for young disabled swimmers.

The event will see swimmers aged 10-16 years old compete in the short course event, comprising; 50m and 100m Freestyle, 50m and 100m Backstroke, 50m Breaststroke, 150m and 200m Individual Medley and 50m and 100m Butterfly.

Emily-Jane Surgeoner, 11, who is competing as an S9, SB9 and SM9 para-swimmer, said:

“I have been training really hard for this event. I’m looking forward to seeing if all my training is making a difference. Most importantly I just want to swim well, my goal is to make a number of qualifying times so that I can swim at my first British Para International Swim Meet at the end of May. Of course, my other goal is to have improved on my overall times too.”

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS, said:

“For many swimmers here this weekend it will be their first national competition experience. This is testament to the amount of work delivered at grassroots level to introduce new swimmers and grow participation. We’re proud to be bringing the event to the South coast this year- our thanks go to Swim England, SOS, Southampton City Council and Active Nation for their support.”


Spectators will be able to buy tickets at the venue on the day. Details are as follows:

Event: National Junior Para-Swimming Championships 2018

Venue: The Quays, 27 Harbour Parade, Southampton, SO15 1BA

Dates: Saturday 14 April – Sunday 15 April 2018

Saturday: Session one, race starts at 9am. Session two, race starts at 2pm

Sunday: Session three, race starts at 9am


Start lists and results will be available online. Follow the event conversation with the hashtag #JuniorParaSwim18.

For further information, please contact:

  • Jannine Walker, National Events Manager. Email: Jannine  Mobile: 07725 273158
  • Laila Issa, Communications Advisor. Email Laila  Mobile: 07794 525034

In other news:The England Talent Day for players with a disability will be held on Sunday 6th May 2018

England Talent Day- Players Required

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Do you have any footballers (or know any footballers) within your club, school, organisation or programmes that have a disability?

The England Talent Day for players with a disability will be on:

 Sunday 6th May 2018, 10:00am-13:00pm

At West Riding County FA, Leeds, LS26 8NX

We are looking for players aged 7-16 to meet the following criteria;


  • AMPUTEE (male)
  • BLIND (male)
  • DEAF (male)
  • DEAF (female)

There is a poster (which you can share with your contacts) and a player registration form which needs to be signed by the parents of those who are interested in attending the England Talent Day.

If you know any players that fit into the above criteria and believe they have a very good opportunity to progress in the England Talent Pathway then please provide the following information to Colan Leung  as soon as possible:

-First Name

-Family name

– Date of Birth

-Year Group (7-11 or 12-16)

– Impairment

– Home Address

– Post Code

– Contact Number

-E-mail Address

In Other News: Celebrating Disability Sport in Sheffield


Celebrating Disability Sport in Sheffield

Thursday 5th  April

Video from Within Reach has a range of examples of people with disabilities being physically active at different levels

At Get Yourself Active we like examples of people with disabilities getting active whether in blog posts like this one or videos.

This is why we’re sharing “Within Reach- The story so far” on our website. This is a nearly four minute long video that invites people to see what has been going on in the world of disability sport and physical activity in the city of Sheffield. It can be seen here or below:

Within Reach – The Story So Far from Vox Multimedia on Vimeo.

The video celebrates the range of disability sports opportunities available to people of all ages and abilities across Sheffield. And provides information about how the city’s sports and activity programme developed from 1989 after the World Student games, whether through the work of Within Reach or the partner organisations that joined it. Please look at “Within Reach- The story so far” and share it with any individuals or organisations who you think may be interested.

Also worth mentioning is that Sheffield has a Disability Sports Network in the city, chaired by Dawn Wood of the Links School Sports Partnership. If you’re interested in getting involved with the network then do email

In Other News: We have six partner organisations across England, including Disability Centre for Sheffield Independent Living.


Bryerley Springs Equestrian Centre Gains Accessibility Mark Accreditation

Thursday 4 April

A Milton Keynes equestrian centre has secured an accreditation to a national scheme to encourage more disabled people to take up horse riding.

With the mental and physical benefits of horse riding well documented, the centre hopes its Accessibility Mark accreditation will help reach out to a wider group of riders.

The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of opening up more opportunities for disabled people to participate in riding.

Following an appeal for more volunteers, the centre’s staff, including the new team of volunteers participated in a compulsory training day with an ASO (Accessibility Support Officer).

The training focused on the challenges faced by disabled riders and lesson planning, to enable staff to make the sessions productive and safe whilst keeping them fun and interactive.

The Pony Club-approved centre currently offers lesson to riders of all ages and abilities, delivered by qualified staff who have all received training in child protection/safeguarding and first aid.

As well as riding lessons, the centre also provide lessons to NVQ level in Horse Care. Just spending time with horses can promote a general sense of well-being and improve confidence, something the centre hopes they can achieve with both ridden and un-mounted sessions.

A spokesperson from Bryerley Springs Riding Centre said: “Brylerley Springs is a great place to learn to ride and we pride ourselves on the welcoming atmosphere our clients experience. We really hope to be able to open up our doors to more members of the community with the message that horse riding is an activity that is available to everyone.

“The Accessibility Mark accreditation demonstrates our ability to safely and confidently accommodate riders with a range of disabilities and the support from the RDA means we can seek advice where necessary to ensure every rider can set achievable goals.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the 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.

For further information contact Bryerley Springs Equestrian Centre on 01525 261 823 or visit

There are currently 47 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

In other news: Introducing Leo Capella Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active

Introducing Leo Capella Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active

Thursday 5 April 2018

Leo Capella, new communications officer for Get Yourself Active introduces himself.


I hope that you had a good bank holiday weekend.

Leanne Wightman the programme officer is away for the next six months.  So I have the  absolute pleasure of taking over this website from Kirsty Mulvey while she focuses on working with our existing partner organisations and engaging new ones.  For those who don’t know me I’m the former Campaign Project Coordinator at I Can Make It, another project that Disability Rights UK works on.

I’m also on the autistic spectrum and I love sport, at least for the most part as an armchair fan. I used to do a lot as a kid and then as a young adult whether through occupational therapy and school sports. Or sailing which I did a lot at both solo and as part of a crew, sometimes competitively, sometimes sponsored, other times just for the fun of messing around on the water. But somehow between jobs, creative writing and campaigning I lost my way on keeping myself active apart from walking my dogs both past and present . So I’m not as active as I should be. Hopefully being part of this campaign will change that!

Also Disability Rights UK is an organisation made up of clever people who like doing clever projects that help people with disabilities participate equally in society on their own terms (and we love it that our funders  and six partners from across England do too).

Hopefully in the next six months I can show you just how we all work to give other people with disabilities choice and control (which is crucial) on how they get and keep active within their lives. This will be through our various updates including our newsletter that goes out at the end of the month (if you haven’t signed up already you should) and some content from our partners (including hopefully our project coordinators) who do excellent jobs in their areas.

I’d also encourage you to look at our films about getting active as well as why our campaign was launched.

We’ve got another film coming in out the future so please do keep an eye out for it. And don’t forget that we’d love to share your stories about the work you do with personal budgets to get disabled people active as well your own stories about getting active as people with disabilities. So do get in contact with us.  

For my part I am trying to take up a martial art as I’ve always wanted to learn one (any autism friendly Iaido instructors out there)? Who knows time permitting there may be a blog post or two about that or getting back out the water sailing.

In any case thanks for reading and looking forward to hearing from some of you soon.

In other news: I’m not the only new thing happening in the disability sports/ physical activity world. Check out this video by Cerebral Palsy Sport about a clever new form of racing for people with cerebral palsy called RaceRunning.

Motability announces new Director

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Motability, the charity which provides a ‘road to freedom’ for disabled people and their families through the Motability Scheme throughout the United Kingdom, are pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Atkinson CBE to the role of Director, effective from 21 May 2018.

Paul Atkinson was appointed following an open recruitment and selection process undertaken by the Governors of Motability.  He succeeds the current Director, Declan O’Mahony, who decided in 2017 to step down following 16 years of dedicated service to Motability.

Paul Atkinson joins Motability following a very successful and varied career in the Royal Air Force where he was a senior Air Battlespace Manager.  Paul achieved the rank of Group Captain and was sent on 15 diverse tours of duty, four overseas (including German Air Force Exchange), and six operational deployments including Afghanistan, the Falklands and Belize.  He commanded the Royal Air Force Air Surveillance and Control Force responsible for national and NATO early warning and air defence.  He has a strong track record of achievement whilst motivating large and diverse teams to achieve sustained success.

Chairman and co-founder of Motability, Lord Sterling, said:

“The Governors and I would like to thank Declan for his excellent contribution in delivering Motability’s strategic objectives over the past 16 years and we wish him and his family well for future years.  We look forward to Paul Atkinson bringing his own particular skills to the role and working with us to drive Motability even further forward, in order to transform and enhance the lives of disabled people and their families”.

In other news: Instructability helped me learn to be me again

InstructAbility helped me learn to be me again

Thursday 29 March 2018

This week’s personal experience blog comes from Wendy Hall, who when she couldn’t find a gym she liked decided to train as a gym instructor herself

In 2008 I had a blackout and fell down stairs. I broke my neck at C5/6/7 cervical level, which essentially means everything below the break is affected and I had instant paralysis from the neck down. Some of my friends and family were always hopeful I would get some sort of recovery as I was physically fit and always did exercise, used weights and gone to the gym, but I know how lucky I am to have achieved any recovery, feeling or movement due to the level and severity of my injury.

Soon after the accident I was lying in bed, not being able to move, but still trying to work out how I was ever getting back to the gym.

I thought it would be a very difficult road ahead for me – and I was right.  Some days were harder than others with several gyms and personal medical struggles trying to hold me back. The attitude towards me was unexpected, especially from lots of staff and members who knew  me; it was like I had two heads and was contagious! I was offered no support, no alternatives or adapted induction to be able to re-learn equipment. I even struggled to enter the building, even with my partner’s support.

That’s when I decided it shouldn’t be the case for others….

I did some voluntary work with Aspire, a spinal cord charity, which led me down the path of becoming a gym instructor again after my accident. Aspire has a great InstructAbility programme which provides fitness industry training for disabled people. I used to teach aerobics classes before my accident, and so the training for me was a brilliant opportunity and helped me to feel like the ‘old me’ again.

Although my spinal injury can make things challenging at times, being active helps. Practical exercises support me with everyday functions like getting about and some flexibility, which can be challenging with my nerve damage.

While in the gym as a volunteer, I decided I wanted to start an Inclusive Circuits class when I became qualified.  I wanted to create and give more opportunities to bring more people together. It was (and still is) so apparent there are very few inclusive classes in gyms; the issues I had faced just seemed to be all too common.  Anyone is welcome to join in with us, and anything can happen. My class has been doing so well and is popular with regular participants!! There are many abilities, and we all come together to exercise and some of the transformations have been amazing for individuals.

Any top tips or recommendations?

I’d say most of all, keep looking and trying to do something you like and enjoy. Whatever you can manage today, may get you through tomorrow. Family and friends will see you through, and will help where they can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Charities for example, can offer much more than just financial support, they can help with all sorts of things. Without Aspire, who knows where I would (or wouldn’t) be today. I have a lot to thank a stubborn practical attitude, and Aspire for.

I think I had all but given up on trying to progress, so the opportunity to be supported in teaching in exercise again I couldn’t miss out on. I just wanted something to remind me of some part of ‘me’ before my accident, I could hardly remember with struggling with so many things after coming back home from hospital. I never realised how soul destroying coming home would be, but I couldn’t give up trying to find another me.

In taking on the InstructAbility gym course it set me challenges I wasn’t sure I would manage. From taking on a full course including written and practical work, and trying to manage a job as well, it was so difficult. It was exhausting and painful, physically and mentally, but I wanted to do well and kept believing I could.

Doing the gym course, with other disabled people helped me learn to be me again and have some confidence to be me again. Staff and gym users (at Portway Lifestyle Centre, Sandwell Leisure Trust) knew nothing about me, other than I was a qualified gym instructor on a voluntary placement.

Challenging myself has been the best thing, as well as the hardest. If it was easy it wouldn’t be so worthwhile.

It’s been life changing , almost literally for me.

It’s given me confidence to speak to people again, look people in the eye, learn to be in the gym exercising again and learn to enjoy being with others and be in my own skin. I had hated myself for a long time, felt worthless and pointless. I’m finding my new me, even though it’s taken about 7 years though (I’m now 10 years post-accident).

I’m stronger mentally, growing in confidence, happy to speak with others , and importantly I’ve seen I can encourage others, especially with mixed ability. To see others grow in self confidence and personality is so inspiring to me.  I’m doing things I never would have before, like outdoor rowing, and I’m taking those who want to try new things with me too.

I’m proud to have my disability now and to be able to inspire, encourage and see others grow. My journey could have been so different and, more importantly, without those who I love and live with who have always encouraged me and see how difficult it is, it was and still will be. I’m lucky and very grateful to many, but I spread lots of thank you’s wherever I can. Usually cake & a cuppa, that’s never changed.

Even though I still used my wheelchair, but it never stopped me pushing forwards.

In other news Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?

Step Change Studios invite you to attend their first professional showcase

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Fusion is the UK’s first inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance-inspired showcase, presented by Step Change Studios. Fusion brings together talented professional artists from a wide range of dance backgrounds to push the boundaries of ballroom with beautiful, powerful, performances that redefine the genre.

Fusion is an experiment and creative exploration between disabled and non-disabled artists from backgrounds that include Charleston, Swing, Contemporary and Street to develop original pieces inspired by Latin and Ballroom dance.

Dance, in all forms draws influence from different styles, settings, and stories. Dancers’ physical form influences the artistic and performance process. Fusion brings these together through playful, creative collaborations that aim to question our ideas about Latin and Ballroom dance and dancers.

When: Wednesday 9 May at 8pm
Where: Lilian Baylis Studio, Rosebery AvenueLondonEC1R
Find out more information here: Fusion
Extras: The performance will be followed by a post-show discussion
Free to ticket holders. BSL interpreted.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Supported by the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund – an East London Dance initiative.

In other news: Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon voucher

SportsAble appoints new COO and directors to support growth ambitions

Tuesday 13 March 2018

SportsAble, a sports club in Berkshire which specialises in delivering multiple sports to people with a disability and their families, has appointed a Chief Operations Officer and bolstered its Trustee and Enterprise Boards.

This process has taken place over the last 12 months and prepares the organisation for an expansion of services.

Miranda Wilsnagh becomes new COO of SportsAble

Established in 1975, SportsAble is a registered charity that has been playing a vital role in the community for more than 40 years.  It is governed and managed by a Board of Trustees, many of whom are also founding members of the charity. In 2015, an Enterprise Board was established. This Board reports directly in to the Board of Trustees and is responsible for generating and managing income which is then fed back into the charity and the day to day operation of the facility.

Kerl Haslam, CEO at SportsAble, says:

“We are an ambitious organisation. Over the next 18 months we have big plans to enhance our provision, creating even more accessible and varied opportunities for disabled people in the Thames Valley to enjoy an active lifestyle. We already deliver 20 physical activity sessions per week, across 15 sports and serve a loyal membership of 365 members, but, we want to do more.

“We are in talks with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead regarding the development of new premises on our existing site in Braywick Park, Maidenhead. Our facilities have served us well but they are tired and in need of modernisation.  We are also exploring an opportunity to launch a franchise model to create a national network of SportsAble clubs, extending the service we provide to other communities across the country and enabling inter-club competition. In addition, we are also keen to extend our community outreach programme through connections with local hospitals and schools. Not everyone is able to visit our premises so we want to take more of our services out into the community.

“All of these projects are the driving force behind the recent COO and Board appointments. Yes, the plans are ambitious but with the right skills, knowledge and experience I am confident we can achieve them.”

Joining the organisation as COO is Miranda Wilsnagh. With 21 years’ experience running her own IT recruitment business and more recently working in the charity sector as a councillor and advisor, Miranda’s main role will be on unifying and motivating the staff team as well as overseeing general operations. The post is full time and will enable the CEO, Kerl Haslam, to focus on strategic planning, income generation and partner relations.

Commenting about her appointment, Miranda says:

“I have spent my entire professional life helping individuals fulfil their potential. I intend to continue to do this at SportsAble, both with the staff team and the members. The charity has huge potential and I am looking forward to making a contribution which will push the charity towards a successful and sustainable future.”

Joining the Enterprise Board are: Jo Croft, Head of Finance; Tim Bowley, Team Building and Junior Sports; Lynne Kuschel, MBE, Volunteer Manager; William Wilsnagh, Strategy and Business Development.

Joining the Trustee Board are: Aly Lewis, Lawyer; Sharon Bridge, Swimming Coach and Fundraising; Steve Palmer, Fundraising and Social Media; Jonathon Madden, Social Media; Harp Bamrah, Corporate Sponsorship.

All new members underwent a rigorous interview and induction process before their applications were accepted. Haslam adds:

“The level of talent we have attracted has surpassed my expectations. I am really looking forward to working with such an accomplished group of individuals.”

Speaking about his reasons for joining the Enterprise Board, Tim Bowley, says:

“SportsAble delivers an invaluable service to the community and it is important that we find new ways to protect the sustainability of the charity through the exploitation of existing income streams and the development of new opportunities. Working alongside the other Enterprise Board members and liaising closely with the Board of Trustees, I look forward to introducing new practices, ideas and innovations that will keep the charity providing a much-needed service to the community for many years to come.”

In other news: British Blind Sport and UK Deaf Sport want to hear from you

Double delight as ParalympicsGB take super-G silver and bronze

Monday 12 March 2018

There was double delight for ParalympicsGB’s visually impaired Para alpine skiers on day two, with two medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.

Millie Knight and Brett Wild secured their second silver medal of the Games with a fantastic run in the super G, while Menna Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Kehoe showed their fearless attitude when they bounced back from the disappointment of not completing the downhill event on day one to win bronze.

A jubilant Knight said:

“If I’d thought I would have two medals in two days at the Paralympics I would have said you are crazy. This time four years ago I was sat in the crowd watching Kelly (Gallagher) win gold and now I’ve made the podium myself.”

Their success on the slopes at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre means ParalympicsGB now has a fabulous three medals after just two days of competition.

In other news Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?


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