Get yourself active blog

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.   

Introducing Leo Capella Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active

Thursday 5 April 2018

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

Hello!

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 kirsty.mulvey@disabilityrightsuk.org.   

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 Leanne.wightman@disabilityrightsuk.org or tweeting us @GetYrselfActive using our hashtag #whatsyourpb

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