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EFDS responds to Sport and Recreation Alliance report

The English Federation of Disability Sport has responded to the latest report by the Sport and Recreation Alliance. A study of UK clubs by the Sport and Recreation Alliance has raised questions over the sporting legacy of the 2012 Paralympics. It reported almost nine in 10 (89%) sports clubs saw no change in the number of disabled people with joining in the months after the London Games.

The Alliance, which represents all governing bodies and 150,000 grassroots sports clubs identified:

  • Nearly one in nine (86%) of clubs said they had noticed no change in the number of enquiries they had received from disabled people wanting to take part.
  • Almost all (96%) reported no change in the number of disabled people volunteering at their clubs.
  • Only one in four clubs (24%) said they had suitable facilities for disabled people to participate, suitably trained staff and the appropriate equipment to deliver this, indicating that three quarters of clubs need some form of additional support in order to facilitate disabled participation.

This particular measurement of uptake contrasts with recent interest shown following the Paralympics. As the national body for disabled people in sport throughout England- the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS)- we found in our survey after the Games that eight out of ten disabled people were considering taking part in sport. In October, the British Paralympic Association's Parasport website reported a 2,000% increase in web traffic during the Paralympics compared with the same period a year before. The British Paralympic Association also saw over 1000 disabled people take part in their Sportsfest in December.

Sport England identified 362,000 more disabled people now play sport than in 2005, but it is estimated that only 18% of disabled adults undertake physical activity for more than 30 minutes a week, and those with impairments are still around half as likely to be active than non-disabled people.

Last week, Sport England announced their £2m investment in EFDS’s work over the next two years. This maximises the impact of Sport England’s wider investments in sport for disabled people, with announcements in the past month including:

  • 44 projects benefiting from £10.2 million of National Lottery funding through its Inclusive Sport fund
  • 40 different sports receiving Sport England funding over the next four years for specific plans to get more disabled people taking part
  • Over £13.6 million for specific disability participation and talent programmes across those sport in addition to inclusive programmes within the overall £493 million funding package.

After the Games, given the interest by providers to ensure inclusive opportunities at local level, EFDS created the free online toolkit- EFDS want to ensure disabled people who look for local opportunities can be guaranteed a quality experience once at the club. The Inclusion Club Hub can support this positive participation.

EFDS’s research ‘Understanding the barriers to participation’ showed that there are a number of minor improvements a club can make, which would help disabled people to feel more comfortable in their environment. Examples include being open and direct towards disabled people, asking the level of support needed to be able to take part in the sport and slightly amending standard practices. The same research also identified the main way in which disabled people find out about sporting opportunities is through word of mouth from other disabled people.

Another piece of EFDS research reported disabled people feel disability specific clubs rather than NGB affiliated clubs have a better understanding of their needs in sport. EFDS shares the better practices of disability specific clubs with NGBs and other partners.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive of the English Federation of Disability Sport, responded to the Sport and Recreation Alliance findings by saying:

“It’s not surprising that clubs are facing some challenges in inclusive provision. Clubs can not transform dramatically overnight to provide the perfect scenario for disabled people, although there are some great examples like in wheelchair basketball. What we do expect is for clubs to embrace long term transformation, strategies which encourage inclusive activity and marketing which attracts disabled people. Tools like our online Inclusion Club Hub can support clubs to think about their current provision and make it better for everyone’s long term benefits”.

EFDS encourages all sports to develop participation programmes in an inclusive way, making them accessible for disabled people. With our NGB support, we actively help them to engage more disabled people at every level.

Our focus on insight will increase and enhance research undertaken in England on disabled people in sport. This helps to ensure responses are evidence-based and meet disabled people's needs whatever level they choose to take part. Research before the Games highlighted the main barriers to disabled people’s participation are psychological- the attitudes towards and of disabled people taking part. In the coming months, EFDS will also use findings from current analysis on the desires of disabled people, their experiences of sport and the role it plays in their lifestyle, to help shape sport and physical activity. 

If you would like to arrange an interview with EFDS to talk about the wider impact being made for all disabled people in sport, forthcoming insight or engagement opportunities, contact Sarah Marl on 07764 291671.