Moving the West Midlands Forward: Improving physical activity for disabled people

Moving the West Midlands Forward: Improving physical activity for disabled people

Last week, Include Me West Midlands launched the Citizens Network, an initiative backed by the West Midlands Combined Authority. As part of this launch, we are really pleased to share our written report on our engagement work and recommendations – Moving the West Midlands Forward. This report comes from the voice of disabled people – it is their experience of physical activity in their local areas, real examples of barriers they are facing and their suggestions of how things can be improved.

In 2019, the Include Me West Midlands team asked the Get Yourself Active team at Disability Rights UK to support the development of a Citizens Network to create a change in the way disabled people access physical activity. We decided the best place to start was with engaging disabled people and community organisations in the West Midlands to find out how disabled people feel about access to physical activity and to scope out the interest and appetite for a Citizens Network.

As part of our engagement work, we connected with a range of non-sports sector groups and organisations in the West Midlands working with local disabled people and went on to visit five of these organisations, engaging with a total of 60 people. Our engagement events were interactive workshops in the style of ‘Knowledge Cafes’ and involved a range of different activities created to find out views and experiences.

As part of this we found out some really important information that we then used to produce our recommendations for the Citizens Network, ensuring that this came from the voice of disabled people and their own experiences and views. As part of the Knowledge Cafés we engaged in a variety of discussions including looking at a person’s wider life and what they value, reasons to be active, reasons for not taking up physical activity and potential barriers, looking into support networks for getting active, as well as asking disabled people how they would like to be engaged with.

These discussions then led us to uncover a variety of ‘themes’ around what the Citizens Network could look like in practice. This included using the network to receive information and feedback about physical activity; being able to share lived experience including delivering training to sports organisations; finding ways of improving accessibility in venues and activities; using the network to develop a stronger, combined voice, for example by engaging with a diverse range of community and grassroots organisations and utilising existing networks that disabled people already engage with.

Our work at Disability Rights UK is based around supporting organisations to put disabled people’s priorities at the heart of their policies and practices, so we were pleased to be commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for this piece of work to find out how disabled people feel about access to physical activity in their local areas. Through running the Get Yourself Active programme, we know far more needs to be done to understand the day-to-day challenges disabled people face in getting active. We hope this report signals the beginning of some interesting work between the West Midlands combined authority, disabled people and their communities to co-produce solutions to tackle inequalities when it comes to being active. The include me West Midlands programme presents an opportunity to lead this work and support greater voice, greater opportunity and greater life outcomes for disabled people in the West Midlands.

Click here to view the full report

Click here to view the summary version

If you are interested in learning more about the work we carried out, or would like to learn more about co-production, please email Liddie Bone – Get Yourself Active Project Manager at lydia.bone@disabilityrightsuk.org