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Special Olympics GB announces new four-year strategy

Almost 19 million people in Great Britain have a connection to or aware of someone with an intellectual disability, yet Special Olympics has been the best kept secret in Great Britain – It is time for change!

Person taking part in adapted rowing

Special Olympics GB is delighted to reveal its new four-year strategy. Called Inclusion in Action, our new strategy firmly places athletes at the heart of Special Olympics GB, with a clear vision to drive sustainability and growth across every aspect of the organisation. While increasing our advocacy and influence externally to help more of the 1.5 million people living with an intellectual disability in Great Britain today.

Following extensive consultation over the last nine months with a wide range of registered members, athletes, trustees, corporate partners, key stakeholders, and with the help of international sports marketing agency and strategic partner to Special Olympics GB, Two Circles, our new strategy focuses on four main objectives which provide a clear and achievable roadmap for our organisation moving forward.

Strategic objectives are:

  1. Develop an effective delivery environment
  2. Grow participation to record Great Britain levels
  3. Tell more athlete stories
  4. Generate sustainable and diverse fund-raising

Special Olympics GB’s new strategy comes at a time when recent research has identified that 36% of adults have a connection to or are aware of someone with an intellectual disability (The Omnibus Survey) – which equates to almost 19 million people in Great Britain – far higher than was previously estimated.  Younger generations (16 – 44 years old) have more of a connection to or are aware of people with intellectual disabilities than older generations. 9 out of 10 consumers have a more positive image of a brand when it supports a social or environmental cause.  The spending power of disabled people and their families in the UK is worth £24.9 billion ( This adds up to a huge opportunity for not only Special Olympics GB and people with intellectual disabilities, but for businesses and society in general.   

Michelle Carney, Special Olympics GB CEO said: 

"We are a purpose driven, values led organisation with our sights firmly set on being able to help more of the 1.5 million people who live with an intellectual disability in Great Britain. I am excited and proud of our new strategy and believe we have created a working document with tangible, achievable targets and benefits which demonstrates inclusion in action in everything we do.
"Our new strategy is simple and designed to impact every element of our movement in Great Britain.  From how we deliver sport and competition for our athletes, to how we raise awareness of our amazing athletes and our inspirational charity, and how we can work with our dedicated volunteers across Scotland, England and Wales moving forward.
We will only achieve true inclusion when we listen to the voices of our athletes. They are the best advocates of the difference that Special Olympics makes in people’s lives. Our role is to create environments and platforms where they can share their inspiring and courageous stories. We are committed to advocating for our Special Olympics athletes, so they are treated fairly, and we believe bidding to host a World Games in 2027 or 2031 will ensure that our athletes are treated with the same level of importance as their Olympic and Paralympics counterparts.
"I wholeheartedly believe Special Olympics GB is perfectly positioned to be a pivotal driver of societal change and transform lives of people with intellectual disabilities for good – on and off the field of play.  We are excited about our journey ahead and the transformation we can continue to make through sport, with joy, friendship, laughter, fun and kindness at the heart of everything we do. This is Special Olympics Great Britain. This is Inclusion in Action."

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England said:

"I welcome the publication of ‘Inclusion in Action’ today and the call from Special Olympics GB for sport to be used to help change lives, especially for those who have intellectual disabilities. The past year has seen disabled people disproportionately affected by the pandemic and as a result their under-representation in sport and physical activity has got worse. 
"This new strategy will help showcase the benefits the athletes receive from being a part of the Special Olympics and help to create a sustainable environment for them to thrive and help to encourage more people to take part and be active."

Read Special Olympics GB strategy - Inclusion in Action in full, in summary, or in easy read format at