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National charity Sense is awarded £1.3 million by Sport England

People with complex impairments in England will have a greater opportunity to participate in sport and physical activity. This is thanks to major new funding announced today.

Two disabled men enjoying a game of table tennis with a supporter

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

According to research* carried out by Sport England, inactivity (less than thirty minutes 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.

Today’s funding, from Sport England through the National Lottery, will enable Sense to expand its programme of sports provision. They will work with local partners** to run accessible sport sessions in London and the South East, the West Midlands, the East,  South West and Yorkshire. The sessions will support more than two and half thousand people with high-level support needs. People aged from 5 to 50+ will 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.
Today’s 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 today’s 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 sport sessions in his local area, run by Sense. He said:

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

Sense will also influence and equip the sports, health and social care sectors. The support will help towards mainstream settings and sessions becoming more accessible. Sense is partnering with Disability Rights UK in adapting physical activity guidelines for support staff. They will gather insight to help evaluate the benefits of sport and physical activity for people with complex disabilities.

To find out more about Sense, and its programme to increase the range of sport and physical activities available to people with complex disabilities, visit www.sense.org.uk/sport

*Sport England ‘Active Lives’ Report based on the response of 179,747 adults: https://www.sportengland.org/media/13898/active-lives-adult-november-17-18-report.pdf  

**Working with partner organisations, Sense has supported over two thousand people to participate in sport and physical activity, since 2016. The majority of participants had never taken part in sport at any level. Today’s funding will expand the work ensuring that people with complex disabilities are able to lead an active and healthy life.