Get yourself active blog

Get Yourself Active participates in an international workshop on inclusive cycling

2 October 2018

On Tuesday 11 September Leo Capella represented Get Yourself Active at the International Workshop on Delivering Cycling Training and Activity Sessions for Disabled People at University College London (UCL). This workshop was backed by the International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences (IATSS), Wheels for Wellbeing, and UCL.

A welcoming slide at the beginning of the Delivering Cycling Training and Activity Sessions for Disabled People on 11 September.

It’s always nice to get an international perspective on what you’re doing. This session was a chance for me to get a global outlook in a packed room with practitioners and academics from different organisations and universities as well as learn more about inclusive cycling.
After the welcome speeches the workshop was broken down into two main parts. The first part was a morning of intensive seminars where different lecturers and providers of inclusive cycling from different countries including the UK, Netherlands and Japan gave interesting presentations.

The same old problems that hinder disabled people from getting active repeatedly reared their heads in the workshop, such as disabled people being seen as an afterthought by planners and outdated attitudes. In research done by Rachael Arendt at the University of Westminster, only a quarter of transport strategies in London saw disabled people as potential cyclists. This is something that at best is counterproductive as with cycling, normal activities like going to the shops can become part of physical activity.

Yet there were solutions demonstrated throughout the workshop, including the presentation of a draft guide for bicycle use by disabled children. This guide will be published by the IATSS in the future. There was also an interesting presentation about the possible benefits of tandem cycling which was done by The Aozora Foundation and the Group to Enjoy Tandem Bicycles in Osaka which runs tandem cycling activities in Osaka for disabled people.

There were some nice little details too. For example, although cycling is used by Japanese people for most trips under five kilometres, cyclists are seen as enemies of visually impaired people because they collide with them. In one collision a person broke a visually impaired person’s white cane! Yet despite the run-in the visually impaired person still wanted to ride a tandem bicycle.

In the afternoon, full to bursting with information, we were divided into different groups. We discussed three different questions around disability and inclusive cycling including how to make cycling and cycling training schemes more inclusive. The workshop then finished with a summary and call for next steps including research submissions.

All in all I gained a lot of knowledge about inclusive cycling and was able to contribute to a process that will end up with more disabled people of whatever age and whatever nationality being able to cycle inclusively. After all, the desire from disabled people across different countries is there, it’s just a matter of creating the opportunities and environment for people to cycle.

In other news: Cycling back to being me

How do we keep ourselves physically active?

26 September 2018

Today is National Fitness Day. Instead of writing about why you should get fit we’re showing different ways that some of our staff at Disability Rights UK keep ourselves physically active. And we’ve got the pictures to prove it too! We start with Sarah Johnson who is the Programme Officer for Get Out Get Active.

Sarah Johnston, Programme Officer for Get Out Get Active playing football.

I have always been a fairly active person but after sustaining an injury playing football and then having two children it became far more challenging to find both the time and an activity that interested me. My love is playing football but I didn’t think that I was ever going to be able to play again given the injury to my knee, my time constraints and now having tipped the balance of having my 40th birthday. Fortunately for me there is now a growing movement of women all of a certain age and fitness level 😊 that don’t necessarily feel comfortable at fitness classes, Women’s Veterans or recreational football is fabulous: it’s all about the social element it gets you out of the house; everyone involved is supportive of one another we each have constraints whether that is health conditions or family commitments but everyone appreciates the time that you can put in, we have great fun and we even play a little bit of football. I’m Sarah and this is how I keep myself active.

Leo Capella- Communications Officer Get Yourself Active

Anber looking ready for her afternoon walk with Leo… or maybe not.

I do physical activity mainly through walking Anber my sweet, cute, yet at times “independently minded” Turkish street dog around a certain town somewhere in Essex or outside of it. This gets me out of the house at least once every day and gives me some fresh air. Yet for all the fun or at times tug of war of walkies is working on Get Yourself Active has taught me that any extra physical activity I can do is good activity. So this why I use an outdoor gym nearby where I reside when I’m in London. And not just the chest press I also use the hand cycle which helps build my arm strength. And jump from platform to platform which was difficult to begin with but is now a lot easier.

   Ben Kersey- Operations Officer Disability Rights UK

Ben Kersey, Operations Officer at Disability Rights UK playing softball.

To stay active I play softball in the London Charity Softball League. We play weekly throughout the summer in parks across London. Our team, the Cantelopes, managed to win our group this year but was eliminated in the first round of knockouts ☹

This year I have taken up running and will be slowly crawling around the Royal Parks Half Marathon course in October.

Kirsty Mulvey- Engagement and Research Officer, Get Yourself Active

Kirsty Mulvey, Engagement and Research Officer for Get Yourself Active taking part in the 2015 British Championships in Crawley.

A huge part of the Get Yourself Active project is to promote the benefits of physical activity and sport. As the Engagement and Research Officer for Get Yourself Active, I practice what I preach.

I am a member of a Taekwondo club where I have been training since 2013. During this time I have earned my first and second degree black belts and won lots of medals through competing in sparring, patterns, special technique and board breaking. Yet, these achievements are not the thing that keeps me going back every week.

Taekwondo, like many other activities and sports, has many physical benefits such as losing weight, building or maintaining muscle mass, improving balance and improving strength. Being active can also build your confidence and help you to become more independent. It can improve your mental health, as well as give you a chance to see your friends, meet new people, become part of a team and part of the community.

When we go to competitions then we all support each other and we are there as a team. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, and long as you try your hardest, don’t give up and learn from it – no matter what. I love seeing the friends I’ve made work hard every week and be a little bit better than they were the week before.

It’s not all hard work though. We’re very social and go out for drinks or meals together after competitions and at Christmas time, or attend each other’s birthday celebrations. We come from all different backgrounds, are all different ages and continually learn from one another.

Taekwondo keeps me disciplined and motivated. There always something new to learn, that next move to perfect or next belt to achieve. It’s so much fun and I love the rush of energy I have at the end of each class. Taekwondo might not be to everyone’s taste, but the benefits I get from it can be achieved through so many other sports and I encourage you all to find an activity that’s right for you.

In other news: There are many different ways that you can get physically active. Look at our information in your local area page for more information. 

Get Yourself Active holds its first workshop for Social Workers in Essex

7 September 2018

On Wednesday 29 August Get Yourself Active held its first workshop for social workers in Essex on how to include physical activity for disabled people in social work. Social workers from across Essex attended a session in Ely House in Basildon. Also attending were Cecelia Kumar from Sport England and Leo Capella Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active.

Training sessions are being rolled out in key Get Yourself areas including Nottingham so that social workers can learn how to include physical activity into their work with disabled people. Basildon was a chance for me to get an insight into what happens in one of our workshops and share it with all of you.

Anna Pettican, trainer from our partner in Essex, Sport For Confidence described the workshop as “two hours to think about physical activity” and so it proved. Social workers talked about their own experiences of getting and keeping active which was important as it showed people their clients they had knowledge of the challenges .

We provided information such as through a nicely shaped pie or rather doughnut chart on how getting physically active can reduce the risk of cancers like colon cancer and heart disease. Or on explaining about Disability Rights UKs’ work. While I can’t and won’t go into what was said it was nice to see a receptive audience and learn about techniques such as the three conversations approach which is a new model for social workers to assess peoples needs and plan care. We also handed out our social work guidelines, which completed their journey from a packed box waiting to be distributed to being read and becoming part of someone’s toolkit.

A general and important point that came through the workshop is that it isn’t just intense physical activity through sport that can help it can be something as simple as doing chores or going out. And it’s not just the individual that’s involved in getting and keeping themselves physically active it’s the whole family among others that can be involved.
Then the session moved on to everyone talking about social work in Essex where I managed to pick up a few leads, including information about some interesting inclusive cycling in Southend. Above all though as with the other parts of the workshop it was nice to see everyone sharing their experiences and providing advice to each other.

And one more thing our beloved penguin mascot for Get Yourself Active got a chance to spread his small wings too. Although he observed proceedings he could not fill in our interesting Social Work guidelines baseline survey for social workers which was completed by all of them at the end of the workshop. Hopefully they will opt to stay in touch for the next phase of our work.

In other news:  Learn more about who is funding our work by going here.

A personal take on the Tell us about Your Care partnership

17 August 2018

You may be aware that Disability Rights UK and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have a partnership to get you to tell us about care you receive from different providers. Our Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active, Leo Capella, provides his own perspective on providing feedback.

So you’re probably thinking:

Do the staff at Disability Rights UK do the things that we “urge” you to do like telling the CQC about the care we’ve received?

Well actually we do.

I’ve filled in the CQC form online at least once. I felt that it was nice to do as it gave me control and given that I didn’t have any concerns on that day it was nice to highlight some best practice including the friendly, clear, staff.

The online form itself is a short process around 5-10 minutes to fill in. And an easy one to go through with the option to leave irrelevant parts out. There is also a telephone option which you can use by dialing 0330 995 0400 and choosing option 1.

And knowing that I could fill in the survey and highlight any problems at the end of the day helped me remain composed as well as having some degree of control. And knowing that it’s around for any further issues is actually good to know for future trips.

After all it’s nice to know that I can be positive about the care that I’ve receive, as well as highlight things that worry me in future visits. And I’m not the only staff member volunteer or trustee that’s filled in the CQC form in.

And this service is not just for reporting your experiences of care in hospital. It’s for a whole list, including ones that aren’t just about medically based conditions but also service providers.

For example, I could actually review my experiences at a dentists, which is something that I’ll do the next time I go for a check-up of my teeth!

Also CQC really appreciate any feedback they can get their hands on. I say this as a few hours after my report I got a nice call from a CQC investigator who said it helps them with reviewing hospitals and thanked me letting them know about the care I received.

The CQC website can be accessed here, and in the meantime you can also provide direct feedback to the CQC on your experience of using any of the services they regulate. NB please remember to select Disability Rights UK in the ‘how heard’ section!

A leaflet that provides further information on our partnership can be downloaded here.

In other news: What are personal budgets? What are personal health budgets? Go to our glossary and find out!

1000 Tweaks: An initiative between Get Yourself Active and Leicester City Council.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Get Yourself Active and Leicester City Council are working together to see how we can make Leicester a healthier place to live as part of a new initiative called “1000 Tweaks”.

The ‘1000 tweaks’ initiative is a large-scale campaign that will encourage individuals, families, organisations, places, and businesses to make a few small changes to their day to day routines to help children and young people to eat good food and enjoy physical activity. The idea is that across the city all the small changes made by individuals, families, schools, charities and many more will add up to over ‘1000 tweaks’!

Get Yourself Actives’ delivery partner, LCiL, are pledging to make their West End Neighbourhood Centre a healthier place to be by making a few small Tweaks!

Daniel Ball, Get Yourself Active Sports Broker for LCiL said:

“This is a great initiative put forward by Leicester City Council, and is just one of the ways the Get Yourself Active project is working in the city to make it a happy, healthier place to live.”
“We’re pledging to make our centre a healthier place to be by making sure free water is on tables during our weekly Social Media Café, and use the cafes as a way to showcase physical activities opportunities.”

For more information about 1000 Tweaks click here.

In other news:This is the latest example of the work that our delivery partners do to help disabled people become more physically active. Click here to find out more about them.

Get Yourself Active reacts to Sport England statement on why sport for disabled people matters

Thursday 12th July 2018

Sue Bott CBE, Deputy CEO of Disability Rights UK says:

“We’re delighted Sport England want to partner with groups engaged with disabled people and will be happy to play our part. We know you can’t simply urge disabled people to be more active. There has to be an acknowledgement of, and ways to overcome, the social, environmental and attitudinal barriers disabled people face. Our Get Yourself Active project has shown how, with the support of disabled people’s organisations, disabled people can become more physically active.”

The statement by Sport England can be found here.

In other news: For an example of disabled people’s organisations supporting efforts to get more disabled people physically active look at this report about Chester FC Mental Health and Well Being.

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

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.

Get Yourself Active Goes to Elevate

Thursday 17 May 2018

It’s nice to have a relevant trade show near our head office. And last week (9-10th May), Leo Capella Communications Officer , Kirsty Mulvey Programme Officer and Daniel Ball coordinator for Get Yourself Active in Leicester went to Elevate at Excel for Get Yourself Active. Leo reflects on what he learned during his time at the event.

For experienced physical activity veterans Dan and Kirsty, Elevate was a chance to meet existing contacts including our partners from Activity Alliance and the University of Birmingham who were part of a panel on how to improve disability participation. For a rookie to the sports sector (i.e. me) it was a chance to explore the wider world of physical activity and sports for the first time in greater depth with talks about the unleashing the potential of the sporting economy, Generation Z, as well as using behaviour change proving my highlights. For me the exhibition provided a useful insight into the physical activity sector.

On the first day of Elevate my highlight was getting a lesson in the scale of the challenge that there is to improve physical participation for people as a whole, after having previously reviewed the results from the most recent Active Lives Survey.  For instance, 2.6 million Londoners are inactive including disabled people and lower socio-economic groups.  Yet there are also positives, as a survey found that 7 out of 10 people with disabilities want to be more active.  So a point that came out from Elevate was that the focus has to be on removing barriers instead of building it and thinking that people will come, which has been the mindset of the physical activity sector in the past.

Getting people with disabilities in to the sector as trainers as well as other positions is something that our campaign has covered in the past. And this point was discussed in a number of talks that I went to. For instance, as part of unleashing the power of the purple pound and making the business case for including people with disabilities along with other hard to reach groups.

Having said that, for all the positivity when we looked for physical activity apparatus that could be used by people with disabilities that was openly advertised not much was on display. However there was an Alter G Treadmill on display (which can be used for people with disabilities) and I also found other apparatus that could be adapted to people with disabilities for instance a climbing type frame could be adapted.

All in an all I had a positive informative time at the exhibition and maybe next year Get Yourself Active will either have a stand at Elevate or be part of a panel discussion alongside our partners. Hopefully by then more people with disabilities will be doing more physical activity and be paid members of the industry. However it was clear from the conference that getting more people with disabilities in physical activity won’t happen overnight.

In other news: Why do we at Get Yourself Active do what we do? Here are some reasons why our campaign exists…

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

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

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

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

It could be worse I suppose.

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

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

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

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

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

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