Just over 1 million (1.08m) disabled Londoners are discouraged from playing sport, according to a new report.
‘Sporting Chance’ has found that two-thirds of the Capital’s 1.5m disabled people cannot access sport, despite the Mayor of London’s £22.5m investment in sport.
Reasons include poor staff attitudes, health concerns acting as a barrier to participation, lack of appropriate supervision and difficulties accessing facilities.
The report recommends the following to increase sports participation among people with disabilities:
• Local councils should apply for funds from the Mayor’s existing £22.5m Sports Legacy Programme to train all staff and leisure centres in disability and inclusivity awareness
• Every leisure centre should have a member of staff, trained with an Exercise and Disability qualification, available at all times
• Fitness classes should be adaptable to those with accessibility needs
Richard Tracey, GLA Conservative Assembly Member and author of the report said:
“The Mayor has done great things for grass roots sports in the Capital, but we need to do much more to increase participation among disabled people. Clearly just throwing cash at facilities doesn’t necessarily lead to increased participation. We need to fully open up leisure centres to people with disabilities by making sure staff have all the necessary skills to accommodate them. Accessibility isn’t just about the physical aspects of a building, we need to direct existing cash at inclusivity awareness and the adaptability of fitness classes.”
Raquel Siganporia, 33, lives in Islington, is a lawyer, and became paralysed at the age of 11:
“I’d love to take part in sport and fitness but it’s something I’m not confident even looking into at the moment. I can’t go to gyms and leisure centres because they don’t have appropriately trained staff or the right equipment. I have a spinal cord injury so I need adapted equipment which I can get close to in my wheelchair. I need staff to understand my condition, be able to have that discussion with me, and develop a programme that works for me. I fear I could get hurt easily without that guidance and supervision. The nearest fully accessible gym to me is at least 45 minutes away and I can’t get there easily. I need to feel confident when doing sport and exercise and I need to know that whoever is helping me has the confidence to handle me. It’s been so long since I factored any sport into my life – we have a long way to go. This report makes sense.”
The full report, “Sporting Chance: Increasing disability access to sport” can be downloaded at: www.glaconservatives.co.uk/spc
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