Message from the Chair
Once again, our Annual Report highlights the impact that we, as a national charity, have made over the past 12 months. Every piece of work highlighted helps us to achieve our vision, fairness for disabled people in sport and activity.
I, and the entire board, are continually impressed by the passionate team who works so hard often within a challenging landscape. Alongside our staff, we could not do it without all our members, partners, and supporters.
This year, we were sad to say goodbye to Barry Horne, who retired in his role as our CEO in December. His work for more than 12 years ensured that we are a strong organisation, the true leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity. His dedication was unwavering and his leadership instrumental in getting Activity Alliance to where it is today.
I’m excited by the arrival of Adam Blaze as our new Chief Executive. I know he is the right person to continue to drive our organisation forward. Every action we take must ultimately remove unnecessary barriers to activity and deep-rooted inequalities for disabled people.
As the sector focussed on recovering from the pandemic, we have seen our research team provide vital insight for the sector. Everything we learn means we can continue to deliver inclusive programmes that have a real impact on the ground across the nation. I was delighted to see the return of the National Junior Athletics Championships too, a flagship event, showcasing our inclusive event expertise.
We completed our first of a five-year cycle through Sport England’s system partner funding. This commitment to our work ensures we can help even more organisations to increase the range of accessible, inclusive, and welcoming ways for disabled people to be and stay active. We are excited about the collaboration and opportunities all our funders bring to so many.
Just as importantly, we continue to use our voice to advocate for meaningful change. As we work towards our vision, we will ensure our conversations are at all levels. Our decision making is only made better by listening to disabled people and recognising their lived experiences to ensure that if change happens, it’s genuine and long-lasting.
I hope you enjoy our Annual Report and support us in any way possible.
Looking ahead with the Chief Executive
It is with great pride that I write my first opening remarks as Chief Executive. Returning to Activity Alliance after 15 years working at Sport England, I was already aware of the charity’s outstanding reputation. We are recognised across the sport and physical activity sector because we are in a unique position to offer so much that many cannot.
Disabled people participate in sport and activity less than non-disabled people and are also twice as likely to be inactive, we call this the fairness gap. That injustice drives everything we do. It is not right or fair that disabled people continue to miss out or are forgotten.
I am in a fortunate position to take on this role with a solid platform to look ahead and truly create change, to change people's lives for the better. This year’s report shows the vital work that we do, but also just how far there is to go.
It has been no surprise to see just how much talent and passion exists within our team. We are fortunate to have strong foundations, led by expert finance and corporate services. Our partnerships team stretches across the breadth of England, helping to embed inclusive practice and change attitudes towards disabled people.
The research and insight team’s sound knowledge and inclusion expertise means we have the right foundations to build our strategies and support others.
Our programmes and events teams turn insight into action through a collection of renowned participation and training opportunities. Get out Get Active (GOGA) is a brilliant example in which, in collaboration with many partners, we support disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together.
External affairs ensure our work is talked about, shared, and help to grow awareness of our fantastic charity. This year, we have made strides in our relationships with influential organisations and people.
Whilst impatient that change isn’t happening quickly enough, I recognise that pre-pandemic there was some optimism that we were moving in the right direction. The pandemic put a halt to some great progress that was being shown. Our Annual Disability and Activity Survey in 2022 showed how disabled people were being left behind as the world re-opened. We can’t allow the positive movement from previous years to be lost. I’m confident that we have a major role to play in ensuring that loss of momentum is reversed.
Looking ahead, we are already thinking about our next strategy in 2024. It will be an important milestone as we gather essential insight and assess how we can affect the widespread change required. It is an important moment in time.
Across sports organisations, activity organisations, the Government, Sport England and others, the focus is (and must be) on tackling inequalities. There will be times that we have to step back and help others to solve issues that we can’t. But when it’s right we will work together to create solutions.
Strategic impact and development
In the last twelve months, Activity Alliance has welcomed change and embraced new ways of working to enhance our impact across the sport and leisure sector and beyond.
Welcoming a new CEO
In January 2023, we welcomed Adam Blaze as the charity’s new Chief Executive. This change marked a significant moment for Activity Alliance and presented a new outlook and strategic influence across the organisation.
Adam’s immediate focus was to engage with all staff members individually to understand who they are, their roles and the organisation’s work in detail and to meet with key external partners. Central to our strategic impact is strong partnerships and Adam set about holding executive meetings with his counterparts at the National Disability Sports Organisations, Sport England, Disability Rights UK, UK Coaching, ukactive, Sport and Recreation Alliance, and others.
Developing our cross-organisational work
This year, a substantial amount of work has gone into creating a single operational plan for the organisation for the forthcoming year (2023/24). Led by our senior management team, the plan represents a positive shift to work more collaboratively and efficiently across the whole organisation.
Key to the success of this plan is the involvement and development of all staff. Each colleague will have an individual work plan and specific objectives that align with the master operational plan. This provides a clear line of sight for everyone about how their role and their impact supports the charity to achieve its strategic goals and vision.
Generating income to protect Activity Alliance's future
This year, Activity Alliance has actively diversified its income streams and generated additional income through new routes. We exceeded our income target for the year and have already secured a significant amount towards our 2023/24 target. Successes include delivering a large-scale inclusion project with The FA, providing inclusive communications and inclusive research consultancy services for multiple partners, and organisations buying into our online customer service training programme.
This strategic and financial development will ensure that we can continue to improve disabled people’s inclusion and involvement in sport and activity at all levels for many years to come.
Embedding inclusive practice into organisations
This year, as the sport and activity sector focused on recovery and reinvention following the COVID-19 pandemic, Activity Alliance was on hand to support. Our robust insight, expertise and detailed resources have empowered others to challenge their existing practice and develop new approaches to delivering sport and activity for disabled people.
Calling for change through our research and insight
This year, through detailed insight, our research team has focused on driving awareness of the challenges and inequalities disabled people face to being active.
In October 2022, we released our Inclusive Recovery report in partnership with Britain Thinks to support sport and leisure providers following the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings show that providers need support, to develop and recover more inclusively, to tackle the rising inequalities for disabled people.
We also conducted our fourth Annual Disability and Activity Survey in 2022-23 and released the full report in June 2023. The survey is the primary source of insight for organisations working to achieve fairness for disabled people in sport and activity, and complements Sport England’s Active Lives Adult Survey. Following the media launch, we held an online research briefing event for over 150 partners and stakeholders to help them digest the report and discuss ideas for action.
In addition to these large-scale projects, we have also completed several commissioned research projects and evaluation reviews for internal teams:
- Our advances in co-production activities supported our successful commissioning for two projects with The FA and Haringey Council, a valued Get Out Get Active (GOGA) partner.
- Internally, we have supported the organisation to be insight-led through evaluation reviews for our junior athletics and para-swimming events, GOGA and Secondary Teacher Training programmes, and our regional forums.
- In January 2023, we released analysis of the Census 2021 data about disability, health, and unpaid care in England and Wales.
- In February 2023, British Fencing commissioned our research team to survey inclusive delivery at fencing clubs across the UK to inform their strategic planning for 2023-24.
Building strategic partnerships across sport and leisure
Our strategic partnerships team is the driving force behind much of our work with the sport and leisure sector.
This year, the team has:
- Delivered an online briefing session for 29 National Governing Bodies of sport.
- Supported Riding for the Disabled Association to undertake a review of their Disability Awareness Online Course.
- Provided disability insight and feedback on disabled people’s inclusion for the Access to Nature Levelling Up Bill.
- Supported Your Leisure Kent in securing £346,000 of funding from The Big Lottery fund to lead a GOGA legacy project in Dover.
- Worked with Sport England Club Matters to refresh and release a new and improved online Disability Inclusion Club Hub tool for clubs and organisations.
- Completed a review of Lead, our organisational improvement programme to ensure it is correctly positioned to add value to the new Equality Standard, and support equality, diversity, and inclusion work across the sector. Pilot testing and full programme roll out will take place in 2023-24.
The team's inclusion expertise has also had a significant impact at a regional level:
In the West Midlands, we supported the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games accessibility team to ensure the Games is an inclusive event. This included Activity Alliance’s ten inclusion principles being embedded into the ‘The Big Standard’, a resource on accessibility requirements and considerations for the Games.
In the East Midlands, we collaborated with Sport Structures and all four Active Partnerships across the region to explore disabled people’s representation on Boards and inclusive Board culture. As part of this project, we delivered an inclusive Boards workshop session for their Board of Trustees in March 2023.
In Greater Manchester, we are building a strong relationship with GM Moving through their Commitment to Inclusion work and active travel agenda. As a key partner, we have attended their innovative Commitment to Inclusion partner visits and workshops and facilitated a learning workshop on intersectionality at the GM Moving Conference in February 2023.
Tackling inequalities across leisure
In June 2022, we announced the release of a new Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard in partnership with Quest. The new Standard replaces the Inclusive Fitness Initiative and sees inclusion and intersectionality fully embedded into Quest for the first time. As part of the roll out, we presented to over 100 attendees on a Quest tackling equalities webinar in March 2023.
Delivering inclusive programmes
Activity Alliance has a successful track record of delivering programmes and initiatives that drive change for disabled people in sport, education, and community settings.
Embedding inclusion in schools and communities
In May last year, we created a new online platform for the education sector in partnership with Youth Sport Trust and the Department of Education. The Inclusion 2024 inclusive education hub enables teachers to self-assess their current approach to inclusion and then access a personalised report with advice and resources to improve their practice. With lots of relevant resources gathered from across the country and globe the hub is an inclusion one-stop-shop for teachers.
In October 2022, we relaunched a new version of the Inclusive Activity Programme complete with accreditation from CIMSPA and continual professional development points for learners. This endorsement strengthens the programme’s position as one of the go-to training options for sport and activity organisations, community groups, volunteers, and individual practitioners.
Embracing the GOGA approach
Over the last eight years, Get Out Get Active (GOGA) has become much more than a participation programme. For us, our funders, and delivery partners it is an approach. A way of strengthening community spirit, increasing people’s confidence, and improving their mental health through inclusive activities.
- In May 2022, local and national partners came together to celebrate this approach at the programme’s seventh national conference.
- In December, we released our latest impact report for GOGA and are proud to report that GOGA has reached over 80,000 people, using 3,000 different activities and ideas.
- More than a third of participants involved in GOGA activities have an impairment and/or long-term health condition.
Alongside this, the team has focused on sharing insight to drive sustainability and create a GOGA legacy with two new partner resources:
Resource: Top tips to setting up a deliverers' network
In November, we launched a resource to help our partners set up a deliverers’ network to support the activity providers that give so much to the GOGA programme. Based on Nottingham City Council’s successful network, which is a thriving community of more than 70 members who come together to share ideas, learn for each other, and access support.
Resource: 10 ways to create an inclusive workforce
In March 2023, we worked with Haringey Council on a two-part project about developing inclusive activity leaders. Our research team conducted a small research project with deliverers in Haringey. Then, using the key research findings, we created a resource highlighting 10 ways to create an inclusive and supportive environment for activity leaders and the whole workforce.
This year, our events team has enjoyed re-establishing our junior participation events programme and providing specialist inclusion support at several large-scale events. As well as continuing to deliver a mix of in-person and virtual events across the organisation, including our annual staff and Board away days, accessible online briefings for stakeholders, and our Annual General Meeting.
Activity Alliance delivers prestigious junior events
In June 2022, after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Activity Alliance and Swim England were delighted to host the National Junior Para-Swimming Championships once again. More than 70 young swimmers relished the opportunity to compete in this well-established pathway event in Coventry.
In July 2022, Britain’s future para-athletics stars went for gold at the National Junior Athletics Championships at Coventry Athletics Track. More than 130 talented athletes enjoyed two days of competition and camaraderie, organised by Activity Alliance, and supported by British Athletics, England Athletics and The Lions Clubs British Isles.
Supporting organisations with our event expertise
Throughout the year Activity Alliance also supported external partners to deliver several inclusive events and develop new guidance on classification:
- In July 2022, we supported the Home Office to deliver their annual sports day event and showcase a range of inclusive sports. More than 3,000 employees took part and we worked with partners to deliver football, tennis, and boccia activities.
- In October 2022, our events team and group of experienced volunteers assisted more than 50 wheelchair racers at the TCS London Marathon to ensure they has a seamless race experience.
- We worked with both the Rugby Football League and England and Wales Cricket Board on profiling and classification projects to improve opportunities for disabled people in these sports.
Changing attitudes towards disabled people in sport and activity
At Activity Alliance, we know that changing people’s attitudes and perceptions is critical to having a positive impact on disabled people’s participation and engagement in sport and activity. This year, we used our leading voice to build awareness and influence change on an individual, organisational, and public level.
Driving awareness through campaigns and collaboration
This year, we delivered a successful GOGA campaign and collaborated with several partners on exciting projects that have enabled us to share our passion for fairness for disabled people in sport and activity.
New opportunities through partner collaboration
In April 2022, we produced a series of accessible videos to demonstrate our organisational impact. We identified and collaborated with key stakeholders to record interviews about the impact our insight, resources, and programmes has had on their organisation and ways of working.
Other successful collaboration projects included:
- Working with BBC Bitesize on their Summer of Adventure campaign for children and parents in August 2022. We supported them to develop inclusive activities and messaging for the campaign.
- Reviewing book content for Oxford University Press for their essential phonic reader books for young children to ensure accurate representation and portrayal of the disabled characters.
- Utilising our inclusive communications expertise to help Sport for Development Coalition create a positive language resource to encourage the sport sector use more inclusive language when talking about disabled people.
Doing things the GOGA way
In October 2022, we launched a new campaign to celebrate the success of our Get Out Get Active (GOGA) programme. Over an initial four-week period, The GOGA Way campaign showcased the people and the partners at the heart of the programme in all their glory. Through a series of impactful stories and social videos, we shared how GOGA has evolved from a programme into a creative and innovative approach that is now influencing organisations to do things differently when it comes to physical activity.
Using our voice to advocate for meaningful change
This year, we have focused our efforts on increasing our public affairs activity and media engagement to highlight the deep-rooted inequalities that disabled people face in sport and activity, and key areas for change at national level.
We worked with media agency, Run Communications to plan considerable media activity for the launch of our latest Annual Disability and Activity Survey in June 2023. Together, we delivered a successful launch across our website, social channels, and the media with 143 pieces of coverage secured. This included national coverage on BBC Sport website, The Independent, Times Radio, Huffington Post UK, insidethegames website, plus lots of regional coverage and features in disability sector titles.
We published several strategic leadership and national awareness day stories to highlight the importance of inclusion across all sectors:
- Insightful thought-leadership articles from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street on Commonwealth Games legacy, and GreaterSport Chief Executive, Hayley Lever, on GM Moving’s Commitment to Inclusion.
- We added our voice to National Fitness Day in September to champion inclusive approaches and highlight the impact Activity Alliance is making in the fitness and leisure sector.
- For International Day for Disabled People we shared a powerful piece on our website from our staff on what fairness in sport and activity means to them.
- On International Women’s Day we embraced equity and informed our audiences about the disparities that disabled women experience in sport and activity compared to disabled men and non-disabled people.
We also took on more opportunities to engage in public affairs activity to advocate for meaningful change for disabled people:
- We joined two influential working groups – Sport for Development Coalition public affairs group and Sport England’s public affairs network.
- We signed a joint open letter to the Prime Minister with 200 other organisations calling for greater support for grassroots facilities and clubs, following the exclusion of sport and leisure centres from the Energy Bill Discount Scheme.
- We published strong responses to the Chancellor's 2023 Spring Budget, the SEND improvement plan, PE and School Sport funding, and the Public Accounts Committee Report in grassroots participation since London 2012.
Good organisational wellbeing and a positive culture is key to our success at Activity Alliance. This year, we have welcomed a new Chief Executive and undertaken several reviews to develop internal teams and improve our performance management process and pay progression structure.
In October 2022, Activity Alliance formally announced the appointment of Adam Blaze as our new Chief Executive to our stakeholders and wider audiences. Adam started in the role on 1 January 2023, taking over from Barry Horne MBE, who retired after more the twelve years at the charity.
This year, we undertook some team reviews to ensure that our functions are fit for purpose and can fulfil the commitments within our Sport England system partner funding. This involved:
- Reviewing the operating structure of our progmrammes team and recruiting three new project officers to support the team in the coming year.
- Reshaping our communications team to accompany new specialist roles and broaden the team’s remit to include external affairs and recruit a new Media and Campaigns Advisor.
- Appointing a new Strategic Partnerships Advisor to lead our regional work across Yorkshire and wider stakeholder management practices.
- Conducting an organisation-wide pay review and performance management improvement project. Activity Alliance now has a new competency-based pay progression framework and formal performance review processes in place.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
As the national charity and leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity, we believe Activity Alliance should be reflective of the people within our communities. We are committed to championing equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of employment and in the services we provide.
Activity Alliance diversity profile
We use the social model of disability in our approach to all work. However, we know that some definitions used for protected characteristics can challenge this model, in particular the disability definition. The social model of disability emphasises that it is society and barriers created by society that disable people, not a person’s impairment or condition.
We recognise this difference in our diversity profile by presenting two figures for disability. Figure one presents the percentage of people with an impairment and/or long-term health condition. Figure two presents the percentage of people with a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on everyday life. Figure two aligns closely to the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010.
These are the findings from this year's equal opportunities survey with employees and Board members.
Activity Alliance diversity profile figures - (percentage of total number)
- Figure 1: People with an impairment, long-term health condition or illness - 45% in 2023 (51% in 2022)
- Figure 2: People with a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activites - 19% in 2023 (23% in 2022)
- Figure 3: Female - 67% in 2023 (67% in 2022)
- Figure 4: Lesbian, gay, bisexual - 12% in 2023 (13% in 2022)
- Figure 5: From an ethnically diverse background 10% in 2023 (14% in 2022)
A full breakdown of Activity Alliance's income and expenditure for the year end 31 March 2023 is available in our Annual Trustees' Report and Accounts document.
This is available to download in PDF format at the bottom of this webpage.
Annual Report 2022-23 alternative formats
Here you will find a summary of our annual impact highlights for the year 2022-23 in various alternative formats.
British Sign Language translation
This video provides a summary of our annual impact highlights in British Sign Language. It also features captions and an audio voiceover.
Easy read summary
We have also provided our annual impact summary in easy read format. Easy Read uses pictures to support the meaning of text and give the essential details without a lot of background information.
Activity Alliance Annual Trustees' Report 2022-23
You can view our full Annual Trustees' Report and Accounts for year ended 31 March 2023 in PDF format by clicking on the blue banner below.
This report is also available in Word format. Please email us if you need further support or call 01509 227750.