What we’ve done so far
Supporting disabled people has been a major priority in our response to the pandemic.
Our Community Emergency Fund – set up in the first few weeks of the crisis to support sports clubs and physical activity providers suffering financially – has helped a significant number of clubs who deliver opportunities to disabled people.
We also launched our £20 million Tackling Inequalities Fund to distribute funding to support people who we know have been most affected by coronavirus, including disabled people.
Organisations such as Mencap, Disability Rights UK, Activity Alliance and Disability Sports Coach have directly supported us to deliver this fund and we’ve already invested in 386 projects that directly support disabled people to be active.
We’ve also produced guidance on inclusion and accessibility that will help the providers and deliverers of sport and physical activity understand who can get active, how to engage specific audiences, and how to ensure facilities are, and remain, accessible to all when they are allowed to reopen.
We’ve also invested in our campaigns to inspire the public to stay active in whatever way they can and to ensure they are motivated to return to activities when restrictions are lifted. This includes the now award-winning Join the Movement, This Girl Can and our partnership with 16 national health charities through We Are Undefeatable.
The campaigns have embraced technology and developed short, easy to use workouts disabled people can take part in from the comfort of their home, as well as telling the stories of real people who’ve adapted their routines to include activity despite the challenges they’ve faced.
We had made significant strides forward in recent years in terms of creating inclusive and accessible opportunities for disabled people in sport and physical activity and we will not allow the pandemic to undo these gains.
That’s why we all have a responsibility to not only reverse the impact of coronavirus, but to ensure sport and physical activity returns and recovers in a way that is even more inclusive and more accessible than it was before.
We know that many disabled people want to be more active. We also know that the impact of sport and physical activity on the mental wellbeing of disabled people is significant, in fact it has more of an impact on mental wellbeing than it does for non-disabled people.
Sport and physical activity can lead the way in ensuring that we create a society that is more inclusive and accessible for disabled people.
We must work together to engage directly with disabled people, use their lived experience and expertise to co-produce a more accessible and inclusive system.
We know that for many disabled people, accessing services and feeling part of society is becoming harder. We cannot allow this to happen in sport and physical activity. We must become a beacon for change, for what is possible.
What happens next
In the short-term it’s important to remember that the new national restrictions are scheduled to end on 2 December and at this point we may well return to a more tiered system.
When this happens, we all need to focus on ensuring that those that have been hit the hardest by coronavirus are not left behind when it comes to opportunities to play sport and be active.
Looking further ahead, tackling inequalities will form a central part of our new 10-year strategy that will be published in early 2021 and, without giving too much away, I can promise you creating more inclusive and accessible opportunities for disabled people will run across all its key themes.
We’re also working with the government to ensure there’s alignment with the National Strategy for Disabled People, where sport and physical activity has an important role to play in improving the quality of people’s lives.
It’s the responsibility of everyone involved to do what we can to create more accessible and inclusive opportunities for disabled people.
Together, we can ensure we emerge from the coronavirus crisis with a sector that is stronger and fairer than ever before. One that allows disabled people to feel the transformational, life changing benefit that playing sport and being active provides. That is my commitment today.