Get yourself active blog

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.

One year on volunteering with Get Yourself Active

Tuesday 9 January 2018

Get Yourself Active volunteer, Iyiola reflects back on his time spent with Get Yourself Active over the past year.

Iyiola at the start of his volunteering journey
Iyiola after 12 months of hard volunteering with the Get Yourself Active team









Remember me!  Almost a year ago I wrote a blog about my joining the Get Yourself Active project as a volunteer and  shared with readers my expectations of being a volunteer and the warmth I felt from the entire DR UK team. It’s been a really good time this past year; I went back to part time work but retained my role as a volunteer once a week because I really like being at Get Yourself Active.

What does a day look like at DR UK?

I get in around 11am and I am usually ushered in by K-boss who then settles me in, collects my taxi receipts for Ben to reimburse me and then makes the glorious coffee… L-boss is also often at hand to ensure I am comfortable with the tasks assigned to me. I enjoy the conversations with other DR UK staff too, especially with Ken who frequently shares a joke or two with me – by the way Ken is a master coffee maker too!

So what have I been doing this past year?

It surely wasn’t all spent just drinking coffee…just joking; I have been doing a lot, a lot of fun stuff.  I contributed a number of news articles and blogs on the GYA website and scheduled them for the project’s Twitter account. Learning to post articles and edit blogs was really empowering for me. In a previous career I put together e-newsletters and emailed them round to subscribers, but at GYA I was actually accessing the back end of the website and doing the technical tasks. For example, I learnt how to post articles and incorporate pictures in them and I also learnt how to link these stories to twitter. In the past few weeks I have also been helping Kate, who runs the Get Out Get Active project, to transcribe audio feedback and evaluation of her project. The process involves attentive listening which can sometime be frustrating, but in the end it has enhanced my communication skills – and we all know listening is huge part of a person’s communication skills.

The highlight of the year for me however was being involved in the ‘GYA on Tour’ series. The events were held in cities and regions across England and focused on lessons learnt so far, what is working and can be improved, and also what the sport, leisure and physical activities providers require to enable them engage effectively with disabled people. I really felt valued when I was asked whether I would like to participate and help out – of course my answer was yes and within days found myself in Peterborough to participate at the event there. I also participated at the event in London where I helped register people and provided my insight as a disabled person at one of the workshop tables.

As the project moves into the New Year I have told Leanne and Kirsty that I am happy to continue this journey with them and together champion the inclusion of disabled people in all community activities including sports, leisure and physical activities.

Finally as my latest photo show, I have grown a beard in solidarity with Ben and the operations manager!!!!

Like what you see? Click the below links to read more from Iyiola:

What Get Yourself Active means to me

By Kirsty Mulvey

I have been working as the Engagement and Research Officer for the Get Yourself Active programme at Disability Rights UK for two months now. This job involves building partnerships between disabled people, the physical activity and sport sector, and the health and social care sectors in each of our partner areas.

I have previously worked as part of the Insight Team at one of the UK’s 45 County Sports Partnerships, so I had a good understanding of the physical activity and sports sector when I joined the Get Yourself Active team. However, I had very little knowledge of health care and social care policies, or of personal budgets or many of the different kinds of disability benefits. Although I have nine years’ experience engaging directly with disabled children through a small charity that provides a ten day holiday for 20 disabled children each year, this is my first time working with and for disabled people in a professional capacity. I had a good understanding of the social model of disability, and was aware of a lot of the challenges disabled people faced in terms of getting active, as well as the broader obstacles disabled people face in their daily lives. Yet like many people I was oblivious to a lot of the issues facing disabled people. I knew I had a lot to learn.

My first month was particularly intense. During my first few weeks I visited our new partners and attended lots of meetings in the social and health care sectors. Getting my head around how social care and health care works wasn’t easy, especially as no two areas are the same. I’ve attended Disability Awareness Training, and learned about social prescribing, the history of personalisation, how personal budget are calculated, how to write a support plan and much more through Support Brokerage Training. I’ve learnt the terminology for ideas that seem so obvious, e.g. co-production. It’s such a simple and obvious idea that if an organisation is going to create a policy about a segment of society then they should work with them, using all intersections from that group.

I was attracted to the Get Yourself Active project because I believe that physical activity and sport is something that should be afforded to everyone, regardless of their ability or skill level. In Public Health England’s Everybody Active, Every Day strategy it is written, “If being active was a pill, we would be rushing to prescribe it”. It is widely reported that being active can help to improve physical health such as losing weight and improving strength, balance and fitness, but it also improves mental health. It allows participants to be more independent, see their friends, be part of the community, meet new people, be part of a team and be more confident. The benefits gained from participating in physical activity can also extend into wider society. For example, if someone is becoming more confident this might be the boost they need to search for the job that they’ve wanted for so long. Or if they have increased balance they will fall less and reduce the number of times they have to go to their GP or to A&E, therefore reducing the cost to the NHS. Although there are many economic benefits, being able to include disabled people in all aspects of society should be reason enough.

I’ve always had a personal interest in the barriers to physical activity and sport that women and girls experience, but since starting work on this project I have noticed that disabled people face similar, albeit still worse, challenges. Knowledge about where to go to find activities is the biggest hurdle to overcome. I know from some of the work that I’ve been doing in mapping physical activities in each partner area that there is a lot out there for disabled people, whether this be disability-specific sessions or inclusive sessions. The problem often seems to be that the physical activity and sport sector isn’t very good at communicating this to disabled people. It also recognises that traditional sports are not the right fit for everyone, which is why it encourages fun physical activity, including going for a walk or joining a local gardening club, is so important. This is why I think Get Yourself Active can be good, because we are aiming to join up the wants and needs of disabled people with the physical activity and sport sector, and the health and social care sectors.

However, Get Yourself Active isn’t just about opening up opportunities for disabled people to take part in physical activity and sport. It’s about giving disabled people a voice and empowering them to manage their wellbeing in a way that is right for them, working to break down any barriers facing them. We want to provide disabled people with the resources so that they have the freedom, choice and control over their wellbeing. This includes discussing with their social workers and having it written into their support plan that they want to take part in physical activity or sport, and use their personal budgets to support them to do this, if that’s what they want to do.

Having worked in Insight before, I fully understand the importance of monitoring and evaluating our project. This is why I am glad we are working with our great evaluation partners OPM to make sure that we are collecting the right information in the right way. We want to make sure that this project is replicable and proves its worth if we are to secure more funding and it is to be rolled out at a national level. It is also great that Sport England, our funders, are not basing the success of this project solely on the number of disabled people that we engage with and who participate in our project. Instead they are looking at the wider benefits that disabled people have achieved by participating in Get Yourself Active, including greater choice and control in their lives.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead, developing the relationships with our new partners as well as between disabled people, the physical activity and sport sector, and health and social care sectors, and I have no doubt we will meet our targets for year three.

Sport England’s Active People Survey (APS) results were released last week, and it is sad to see that the number and percentage of disabled people getting active has declined since the last APS results were released. This makes the Get Yourself Active project all the more exciting, and if this project is rolled out wider in the future it should contribute to the increase of disabled people taking part in physical activity and sport because they will have the support that they need to participate in an activity in a way that is right for them.

Part of my job is to keep a regular flow of communications to our stakeholders. This means communicating via Twitter, posting news stories and personal experiences blogs, and creating the new monthly newsletter. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our communications then please email me at   

Don’t forget to sign up to our new monthly newsletter here.

Get yourself active launch – a project personal best

By Leanne Wightman

4lhfgNLM_400x400It is one month since we launched our new Sport England funded Get Yourself Active project and as well as feeling a huge sense of relief that the event went smoothly with no glitches, I felt a little sad when it was all over. However, the launch event was not just about having a nice lunch and telling people WE’RE HERE. It was a chance for us to tell Get Yourself Active friends (stakeholders sounds so formal!) what we need from them to make this project work. So although the launch is over, there is still a real buzz and we intend to sustain this excitement throughout the project.

What I found so encouraging was simply how many people turned up when they said they would. This says to me that there is a real sense of excitement about the project across health, social care and sport. The launch was a rare opportunity for people from such a wide range of professional backgrounds and disciplines to think about and talk through how we improve disabled people’s health, wellbeing and independence through physical activity and sport. It was even rarer to be having this discussion in the context of personalisation, the Care Act and the NHS vision for community based services as espoused in the Five Year Forward View.

We had some inspiring presentations from our partners and ‘friends’, these can be found on our the film section of the website – please take a look. Then over to our discussion groups who put the world to rights and made many useful comments and suggestions about what is needed to make this project a success…

Someone suggested that we need to promote meaningful involvement of disabled people if Get Yourself Active is to be a success;

‘Disabled people need to be upskilled to know how to navigate through the process and be provided with the required information in the right way.’

If more disabled people are involved in providing these services we will have a better chance of good quality service design. We had a great response from friends in the sport sector too;

‘Sport providers will jump all over this – they’ve been waiting to find out how they can link in with people on PBs.’

We were also interested in identifying the many challenges we face including tight local authority budgets, the infancy of such an approach in health and a lack of confidence from sports providers to engage with disabled people meaningfully. So it is clear there is lots to do which means it is vital that friends of the project help us to achieve our outcomes.
It is important to remember why we are delivering this project, getting people on board is a means to an end. Get Yourself Active is about better physical activity and sport options for people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties, mental health issues, sensory impairments those with Autism and older people, that’s what we are passionate about.

Please get in contact with us if you have examples or knowledge of how personal budgets have been used for physical activity or sport by emailing me at or tweeting us @GetYrselfActive using our hashtag #whatsyourpb