Head shot of Sam Orde, Activity Alliance Chair

Message from the Chair

Welcome to Activity Alliance’s 2019-20 Impact Report. It has been another impactful 12 months for the charity, and I hope you enjoy reading about some of our successes in this report.

This year, we have worked with a wide range of organisations, across many sectors, to increase disabled people’s opportunities to be active. Key to this has been collaboration with our members, funders, and partner networks. In this report, you will find examples of how we have been tackling the inequalities that exist for disabled people in sport and activity. By the end of 2019, we began to see signs of progress with an increase in disabled people’s activity levels. But there is much more to do to close the unjust participation gap between disabled and non-disabled people.

We began 2020 with the development of a clear organisational strategy; to achieve fairness for disabled people. The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic presented a huge challenge and I am extremely proud of Activity Alliance’s response. Staff proceeded to adapt and work incredibly hard to stay connected and support disabled people to be and stay active during lockdown. We seized the opportunity to ensure inclusion and accessibility were at the forefront of the sport and leisure sector’s plans to reopen their doors.

As we move forward through this difficult and unpredictable time, we will learn from and use new insight to advocate for the needs of disabled people. Our new strategy will drive sustainable social change and deliver better experiences for disabled people in sport and activity.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the charity this year. I am looking forward to what the next 12 months has in store for Activity Alliance.

Sam Orde


Barry Horne, Activity Alliance Chief Executive

Looking ahead to 2020-21

Everyone at Activity Alliance is determined to make a difference to the lives of disabled people.

We know that sport and activity bring tremendous benefits and improved wellbeing. In recent years we have seen some improvement but that positive change must be accelerated. The impact of Covid-19 on the lives of disabled people and the ability of activity providers to meet all our needs is having a profound effect on our work.

Physical inactivity levels among disabled people in England are still roughly twice that of non-disabled people. So, from 2020-21 we will tighten our focus to achieve a new single long-term vision: Fairness for disabled people in sport and activity.

We will close the gap between disabled people’s level of inactivity and that of non-disabled people. We will make that change within a generation by:

1. Embedding inclusive practice into organisations
2. Changing attitudes towards disabled people in sport and activity

Everything we do will be rigorously tested to ensure that it is making a positive contribution to achieving one or both of those objectives.

The charity has grown significantly in recent years, more than tripling our expenditure. That growth must continue, and our focused review of impact will shape and direct every penny of income to be certain that our vision can be realised.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Activity Alliance staff and Board members, our member organisations and wider partners for your dedication and support this year.

Barry Horne

Chief Executive

Covid-19 response: Tackling inequalities through a global pandemic

As we came to the end of our financial year 2019-20, life, for all of us changed. As the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak swept across the world and we went into lockdown, the sport and leisure sector had no choice but to close its doors. 

Before this crisis, disabled people faced real challenges in accessing opportunities to be active. We were making good progress on closing the ‘fairness gap’ between disabled and non-disabled people’s activity levels. In April, Sport England’s Active Lives Adult Survey reported rising activity levels for people with an impairment or long-term health condition. 4.5m (47.3%) people active, compared to 4.2m (44.8%) twelve months ago, an increase of 258,100 (2.5%). It is yet unknown how the Covid-19 pandemic will impact disabled people, but we do know that inequalities have widened.

We, like many others, adjusted to new ways of working and refocused our efforts to support disabled people through this unprecedented time. Our team was quick to respond to an influx of requests for support from across the sport and leisure sector. There was a growing need to provide accessible and inclusive activities for disabled people at home.

EFDS106 Me Being Active 2017 Tesfai 2

Moving more while at home

In March, we compiled and promoted information on ways that disabled people could keep active while at home. We followed this in April with the release of our STEP inclusion resources for individuals and organisations. Our active at home information and STEP resources were valued contributions to Sport England’s Join the Movement #StayInWorkOut campaign.

View our active at home page

EFDS106 Me Being Active Sam 7

Reopening Activity: An inclusive response

In June, ahead of the gradual reopening of the sport and leisure sector, we published new guidance titled ‘Reopening Activity: An inclusive response’. Created in consultation with sport, leisure and disability equality partners, the resource helps providers to ensure that disabled people are included as they reopen their doors. Over a two-month period, the guidance was downloaded from our website more than 850 times, showing organisations’ aspiration to be better prepared.

Read our inclusive reopening activity guidance

Inclusive activity can make a big difference to disabled people’s quality of life. It is good for everyone’s physical and mental health and benefits our economy. Activity Alliance will not stand by and allow disabled people to become the forgotten audience as the nation’s activity levels increase. We will continue to apply new learning about how we can work and what changes are needed to ensure that disabled people gain maximum benefits as opportunities to be active open up again.

Thank you to all our members and partners for the innovative and accessible responses they have delivered so far during this crisis. Together we will achieve fairness for all in sport and activity. 

Illustration of girl with prosthetic leg running with dog on lead, older man doing sit stand exercises and woman using gym exercise ball

Embedding inclusive practice into organisations

Activity Alliance empowers sport and activity organisations to deliver better experiences for disabled people. Our expertise and resources provide them with the guidance and training they need to embed inclusive practice at all levels.

Leading organisational improvement 

This year, we have supported six national and regional partners to complete Lead - our inclusion improvement programme

Headed up by our engagement team, the programme takes organisations on an improvement journey focussed on disability equality. Our advisors provide each organisation with a bespoke improvement plan. It outlines how they can improve the services they provide for disabled people and offers a suite of solutions.

Lead flashcards

New Lead flashcards

Lead can be an intensive process for organisations. To combat this, we created our new Lead flashcards as an informal introduction to the programme. They prompt organisations to think about how they currently engage with disabled people and generate new ideas. The flashcards support organisations to lay the foundations for a successful inclusion improvement journey.

Read more about our engagement work and Lead programme

Anthony swimming underwater at Manchester Aquatics pool

Empowering workforces to be more inclusive

This year, we redeveloped our online customer service training course – ‘Delivering an excellent service for disabled customers’. The comprehensive course educates sport and leisure professionals on how they can embed inclusive practice into their roles. This includes all front of house staff like receptionists and centre managers. The course is now a key element of Swim England’s national inclusive swimming project.

Visit our customer service training page

Upskilling organisations on inclusive communications 

Our position as inclusive marketing and communications experts in the sport and leisure sector continues to grow. With partners at all levels accessing our services and bank of resources to reach more people accessibly and inclusively.

This year, we were proud to make significant contributions to embed inclusive practice into several high-profile campaigns and programmes. This includes Sport England’s We Are Undefeatable campaign, GM Moving’s That Counts! campaign, and the Include Me West Midlands programme. The messaging and visual identity for That Counts! was a fantastic example of an inclusive campaign.  

We delivered bespoke training to communications professionals at several national bodies. This included Women in Sport, London Sport, Swim England and one of the UK’s leading leisure operators Everyone Active.

Nine in ten stakeholders who received inclusive communications support from Activity Alliance rated it ‘very’ or ‘quite’ useful. This includes attending an inclusive communications workshop and using our comprehensive guide and bitesize factsheets to inclusion proof their work.

Find out more about our marketing and communication services.

promotional image for That Counts! marketing campaign

"Activity Alliance gave tremendous support throughout the planning and execution of Greater Manchester's That Counts! campaign. Their direct input and clear guidance on accessibility issues challenged us in a supportive way; and empowered us to produce inclusive campaign outputs."

Hayley Lever, Chief Executive Officer, GreaterSport and Exec Lead, GM Moving

Get Out Get Active celebrates phase one success 

Joint GOGA and Spirit PNG logo

This year, our Get Out Get Active (GOGA) programme reached a significant milestone. Following three years in delivery, Activity Alliance and funding partner, Spirit of 2012, took time to celebrate the programme’s impact so far. From 2016-2019, GOGA has been a huge success in bringing disabled and non-disabled people together in activities across the UK.

This success is credit to all our national and local delivery partners who have embraced the ‘GOGA approach’. Together, we have engaged some of the UK’s least active people in fun, inclusive activities. The impact of which has resulted in stronger, healthier and happier communities.

In February, we were delighted to announce that the GOGA programme will continue for a further three years. Thousands more inactive people across the UK will benefit from the latest £5million investment. Commencing in April 2020, phase two of GOGA will be delivered in 21 locations. It will enable Activity Alliance and partners to build on the success of GOGA phase one and engage more people in inclusive activities until 2023.

Visit Get Out Get Active website for more information

Just some of GOGA's impact so far:

disabled and non-disabled people engaged in inclusive activities.
of participants felt that GOGA has contributed to an increase in their physical activity levels.
of participants have taken up other activity opportunities for 9-12 months after GOGA.
AKFA InclusivePE Logo (Colour)

Sainsbury’s Active Kids for All Inclusive PE Training

Activity Alliance headed back to school to deliver Sainsbury’s Active Kids for All Inclusive PE Training. The programme provides free training workshops and resources to support teachers, trainee teachers and school staff to deliver high quality PE for all young people. From April 2019 to March 2020, we trained more than 2,500 teachers and school staff, in partnership with our home nation counterparts, Youth Sport Trust and British Paralympic Association. We also secured a funding extension from Sainsbury’s to continue programme delivery until March 2021.

More information about Sainsbury's Inclusive PE Training

IAP logo

Inclusive Activity Programme

Activity Alliance also enjoyed another successful year of delivering our community-based Inclusive Activity Programme in partnership with UK Coaching. Supported by Sport England’s National Lottery fund, it provides specialised training on how to engage disabled people more effectively in physical activity. It is ideal for organisations and individuals alike, including sports coaches, community leaders and healthcare professionals. From April 2019 to March 2020, we delivered inclusive activity training to 950 individuals.

Find out more about the Inclusive Activity Programme

Activity Alliance events 

From April to July 2019, our Regional and National Junior Athletics Championships took place with support from British Athletics and Lions Clubs International. 1,300 young disabled people took part in this year’s programme. 200 athletes went forward to represent their region at the National Championships in Derby. Activity Alliance crowned the North West team as 2019 National Champions after two days of spirited competition!

North West junior athletics team celebrating victory at National Championships 2019

"We came so close last year and to win this year, is just everything to us. These Championships have a massive impact on our athletes. As well as the opportunity to compete, the event has huge social benefits because everyone makes new friends from other clubs and cheers each other on."

Samantha, North West athletics team volunteer

In July, Activity Alliance managed the delivery of an inclusive family sports day for the Home Office. Over 1,500 staff and family members enjoyed taking part in a range of inclusive sports including boccia, blind football, sitting volleyball and adapted tennis games.

In December, more than 230 swimmers competed in the National Para-Swimming Championships at Manchester Aquatics Centre. The event welcomed a mix of established and new para-swimming stars, including Eleanor Simmonds, Reece Dunn, Ellie Challis and Maisie Summers-Newton. The Championships is organised by Activity Alliance in partnership with British Para-Swimming.

In March, the next generation of para-swimmers made a splash at the National Junior Para-Swimming Championships in Sunderland. More than 100 swimmers aged 10-18 years old took part. For many, this event is their first experience of a national competition and an opportunity to improve their personal best times. We deliver this event each year in partnership with Swim England.

Swimming teacher supporting visually impaired man in swimming pool

Refreshed toolkit provides clear and simple guidance

As well as delivering high quality events, our team also provides specialist guidance on embedding inclusive practice for organisations and activity leaders. In September, we released an updated toolkit to guide sports coaches, teachers and physiotherapists on different methods of identifying and grouping disabled people for sports events and activities.

Read news story about our new profile toolkit

Changing attitudes towards disabled people in sport and activity

Activity Alliance is passionate about unlocking the value of sport and activity for disabled people. Robust insight and people's lived experience guide all our work. We are committed to changing out-dated attitudes and removing the barriers that society imposes on disabled people.

Calling time on negative perceptions 

Who says? campaign logo

In July 2019, Activity Alliance took a powerful step in its advocacy and influencing work with the launch of the Who says? campaign. We created it in response to our research into non-disabled people’s attitudes on inclusive activity. Who says? called time on negative perceptions and offered ways to rethink and change out-dated views. The campaign ran for six weeks over summer and was supported by Sport England. 

Featuring humour and straight talk, the six films provided upbeat insight from disabled and non-disabled people. Watch the teaser film below, and view all campaign films on our YouTube channel

Who says campaign teaser film

The campaign was a key success in demonstrating how to reach and engage people inclusively. We ensured all content was accessible and used multiple alternative formats. Later in the year, the campaign was shortlisted for two industry awards – Northern Digital Awards and Charity Film Awards. We took bronze in the latter. A proud moment for everyone involved.

There is much still to do to achieve fairness for disabled people in society. Phase one of Who says? has given us an advocacy platform to continue this important work.

Visit Who says? campaign page.

Who says we can't change perceptions?

Who says? created a movement that influenced at three levels. For individuals, society and us as an Alliance. Our members and sport sector partners rallied behind us. We received great public and influencer support across social media, including comedian and The Last Leg presenter Adam Hills and Paralympian Jonnie Peacock. As well as West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, who both spoke publicly about the campaign.

New research reveals unacceptable inequalities

Activity Alliance Impact Report research graphicIn January, we released our first annual research report titled ‘Activity Alliance Annual Disability and Activity Survey 2019-20. Supported by Sport England and involving more than 2,000 respondents, it presents an in-depth comparison of disabled and non-disabled adults’ experiences of sport and activity.

The survey findings reinforced that disabled people remain substantially more likely than non-disabled people to be physically inactive. And, revealed some of the many unacceptable inequalities that disabled people experience.

This report is a big step forward in understanding the important issues that affect a large proportion of our population. It will be repeated every year to track changes in perceptions and experiences among disabled people.

Disabled man cycling his bike down a residential road

"Activity Alliance’s first Annual Survey increases our insight and throws down a challenge to all in the physical activity sector: to use this new understanding to make sure that far more disabled people can get active in a way that is right for them. It’s a challenge that personally I know we must take up."

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive, Sport England

Report sparks fears for future generation

In March, we followed up the Annual Survey with the release of our most comprehensive report on disabled children and young people’s experiences. Titled My Active Future, the report investigates the differences in disabled and non-disabled children’s attitudes towards, and participation in, sport and activity.

The findings uncovered a worrying situation. Failings across many sectors are steering disabled children into an inactive adulthood. Disabled children are less active than their peers and experience more barriers. This activity gap can lead to disabled children becoming lonely and socially isolated.

Chart shows data about disabled children's activity levels from Activity Alliance My Active Future report

In response to this report, we called for more commitment from every sector in society to ensure all children and young people have access to inclusive opportunities.

Read our new insight on disabled people in sport and activity.

Include Me WM logo

Pioneering regional inclusion programme

In May 2019, we joined other key national figures in sport and activity for the launch of Include Me West Midlands. The programme aims to generate a collection momentum across the region and put disabled people at the heart of activity planning, opportunities and campaigns.

Find out more about our role in the Include Me West Midlands programme

Two young adults with dwarfism playing indoor hockey

Our General Election 2019 manifesto asks

In late 2019, ahead of the UK General Election, we unveiled our asks for an inclusive, active nation. We called on all political parties to commit to giving disabled people the same opportunities to live full and active lives as non-disabled people. We are determined to see increased policy focus on disabled people’s inclusion at the highest level.

Read our General Election 2019 full manifesto asks

Organisational wellbeing 

Organisational wellbeing is key to our success at Activity Alliance. It is good for our staff team, the people we work with and our charity’s performance.

Organisational health graphicCode for Sport Governance review

During the year, Activity Alliance’s Board undertook an independent external evaluation in line with the Code for Sports Governance for Tier 3 organisations. The review was carried out by Sport and Recreation Alliance. It enabled us to identify areas of improvement that affect Board effectiveness.

The results of the review were positive. Our Board functions effectively and openly. Trustees are knowledgeable about the role and direction of Activity Alliance. Communication between staff, stakeholders and members was identified as an area for improvement. Future development opportunities could include improving board knowledge and skills on governance, finance and change management. 

22527 Activity Alliance Impact Report 2019 20 Graphics18New membership approach coming soon

This year, we carried out a detailed review of our membership structure. We gained valuable insight and feedback from existing members at two consultation events. These sessions helped us to re-evaluate how we work with members and advocate for disabled people’s opportunities.

This review forms part of our ongoing work to develop a new membership approach that supports our ambitions for future growth. With a stronger, more united membership, Activity Alliance will lead a collective movement.

We will unveil our new membership approach in 2020-21.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Activity Alliance is committed to championing equality and divsersity in all aspects of employment and in the services we provide. Theses are the findings from our equal opportunities survey with employees and Board members: 

Activity Alliance diversity profile - (percentage of total number) 

  • People with an impairment, long-term health condition or illness - 48% 
  • Female - 71% 
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender - 10% 
  • From Black, Asian and Miority Ethnic background - 16% 

Financial wellbeing 

Activity Alliance’s total income for the financial year 2019-20 amounted to £3.71m. An increase of £411k on the previous year.

Sport England exchequer investment continues to be one of the charity’s biggest funding contributions. It enables us to use our expertise to embed inclusive practice into organisations and change attitudes towards disabled people in sport and activity.

Spirit of 2012 provided £1.089m to fund the final year of the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) phase one programme. Awards totalling £886.8k for GOGA phase two, due to begin on 1 April 2020 were also received in March 2020. This income has been recognised in the financial year 2019-20 and will be carried forward as part of a restricted reserves balance. Monies received for GOGA phase two commencement include £547.5k from Spirit of 2012, £189.9k from Sport England National Lottery fund and £149.4k from London Marathon Charitable Trust. We were also awarded an additional £139k National Lottery funding this year to fulfil our role as inclusion specialists for Sport England’s Secondary Teacher Training Programme. 

The funds raised by our individual fundraisers and corporate partners remains crucial to our work. Thank you to all our supporters and dedicated partners including Lions Clubs International who raised £4.9k. 

Our event management and consultancy services provided a good level of income generation. Once again, sporting partners London Marathon Events, Swim England and British Para-Swimming, commissioned our services to deliver inclusive competition opportunities for disabled children and adults.

Activity Alliance income 2019-20 

Activity Alliance income year ended 31 March 2020 table and pie chartActivity Alliance expenditure 2019-20

Activity Alliance expenditure year ended 31 March 2020 table and pie chart

Activity Alliance Impact Report 2019-20 (accessible PDF, file size 4MB)