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Thousands of disabled people to access sport after £1.3 million boost

10 Sep, 2019

Article from: Charity Today

The national disability charity, Sense, has been awarded £1,338,449 by Sport England to tackle the issue of ‘inactivity’ amongst people with complex disabilities, which has a detrimental effect on physical health and mental wellbeing.

According to research carried out by Sport England, inactivity (less than thirty minutes of exercise a week) is more common for disabled people (42%) than non-disabled people (21%). Furthermore, it increases sharply as the number of impairments an individual has increases – 51% of people with complex disabilities are inactive.

The funding, from Sport England through the National Lottery, will enable Sense to expand its programme of sports provision, working with local partners to run accessible sports sessions in London and the South East, the West Midlands, the East, South West and Yorkshire. The sessions will support more than two and a half thousand people with high-level support needs, aged from 5 to 50+, to access sport and physical activity over the next three years.

Sense National Sports Manager, Alissa Ayling, said:

“Over half of all people with complex disabilities miss out on participating in sport and physical exercise, which is vital for keeping healthy, learning new skills and making new friends.

The funding will enable us to create lifelong opportunities for people with complex disabilities to be active by establishing meaningful, engaging, and local opportunities to take part in sport and physical activity.”

Sport England Strategic Lead Disability, Adam Blaze, said:

“We are delighted to announce the investment into Sense, continuing their excellent work supporting people with complex disabilities to enjoy the benefits that increased physical activity brings, such as improvements to mental wellbeing and social connectedness.

We know from our Active Lives research that inactivity levels are unacceptably high for people with multiple impairments. This investment, in addition to creating opportunities through direct delivery with the expansion of Sense’s existing programme of delivery, will upskill the workforce and influence the sports and physical activity sector to be more inclusive for people with multiple and complex disabilities.”

John France, 58, from Rotherham, has cerebral palsy and a learning disability. He recently started attending sports sessions in his local area, run by Sense.

John said:

“Making friends and seeing people gives me confidence. Sport sessions allow me to do that and it’s great.”

In addition to new regional sports sessions, Sense will influence and equip the sports, health and social care sectors so that mainstream settings and sessions become more accessible for disabled people. Sense is partnering with Disability Rights UK in adapting physical activity guidelines for support staff and will gather insight to help evaluate the benefits of sport and physical activity for people with complex disabilities.