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Blog: 'Our Regional Forums are a fantastic opportunity'

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) website features a blog post every Friday through the year.

March's theme is local sports delivery. This week, EFDS Engagement Advisor Mark Fosbrook describes helping to spread expertise, confidence and knowhow at a local and regional level, and the special role played by new Regional Forums.

Mark’s blog:

Hello, my name’s Mark Fosbrook. I am one of four Engagement Advisors at the English Federation of Disability Sport, and I cover the West Midlands and the South West. I’ve worked for EFDS for two years and before that was a Disability Sport Officer at a County Sports Partnership (CSP).

My days are very varied and this helps keep the job exciting. One day I could be based from home catching up on emails, developing support material for my CSPs or planning my travels. The next, I could be meeting with CSPs, disabled people user-led organisations, statutory services and so on, anywhere from Staffordshire to Cornwall.

EFDS is constantly looking at ways in which we can improve networks and develop greater partnership working. We do this using a variety of different methods, one of which is the development of Regional Disability Forums.

These Forums have been developed to create a clear pathway from a national level, to regional level through to the local level.

Those that attend the meetings can be anybody from disability leads from the CSPs, Regional Officers from National Governing Bodies, National Disability Sports Organisations and many other interested parties.

"We want to help increase the participation of disabled people"

Forum meetings vary across the country but are a minimum of three times per year. The aim of these meetings is to support the leads to be experts within the field of disability, share good practice and support the development of opportunities.

Ultimately, we want to help increase the participation of disabled people within sport and physical activity.

My most recent Forum was in Taunton - it was really interesting, featuring a range of people in attendance. These included CSP leads, attendees from Dwarf Sports Association UK and Special Olympics, a couple of NGB representatives and a member of the disability team from Sport England.

This Forum contained updates from all attending and working together we identified some good practice that could be shared. It also provided support to several people who said they had faced difficulties engaging with certain groups.

We heard several presentations from Sport England and the Let's Play initiative, and there was a chance for me to share the recent excellent research delivered by EFDS, called Talk to Me.

The meeting was relaxed but informative, and people went away supplied with knowledge, support and confidence to implement what they had heard.

Jessica Lightwood, someone with whom I’m now working regularly, recently started with Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin as their Inclusion Officer. She told me that she finds the Regional Forums very valuable:

“The meetings have given me a chance to meet with the other leads from across the region. They have given me a large amount of support and ideas.”

I agree with Jessica - it is a fantastic opportunity to bring together key people and share knowledge and support.

In the South West and the West Midlands we hold four Forums a year in each region. I have another one coming up only this month. I can’t wait.

More information

If you are interested in promoting your work at a regional level or wish to develop new contacts then please contact one of the four EFDS Engagement Advisors:

Mark Fosbrook (West Midlands and South West): 07764 291670

Tom Webster (North): 07764 291661

Jon Whittingham (South and East): 07967 573345

Catherine Slater (Yorkshire and East Midlands): 07764 291666


EFDS is a national charity, dedicated to disabled people in sport and physical activity. We exist to make active live possible and work with many partners to increase opportunities for disabled people throughout England. Find out more about your area on our website.