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23 Jun 2022

Everyone Can task force aims to narrow inequalities for people with disabilities
BY Frances Marcellin

A new industry task force is aiming to make exercise more inclusive for people with disabilities

A new industry task force is aiming to make exercise more inclusive for people with disabilities
photo: Shutterstock/Zurijeta

A special task force has been established to boost physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities.

Part of UK Active’s inclusivity-focused Everyone Can programme, the task force will unite industry leaders, private operators and governing and representative bodies in partnership with organisations such as the Activity Alliance, Sport England, CIMSPA and the Swimming Teachers Association.

The task force will also have the ongoing support of current UK Active chair, Tanni Grey-Thompson, who will finish her tenure as chair at the end of July and is shortly to begin a new role as chair of Sport Wales.

Together they're aiming to support people with disabilities in meeting their physical activity targets; improving fitness facilities and access; enhancing customer service across leisure centres, clubs and gyms; overcoming barriers; nailing down terminology and developing ways to effectively capture data to increase understanding.

Prior to the creation of the task force, UK Active carried out consultations throughout the industry to analyse the status of the disabled community within the physical activity sector. The trade body then launched a new website (everyonecan.ukactive.com).

The task force is encouraging organisations with an interest in increasing inclusivity and accessibility of gyms, fitness facilities and leisure centres to sign up.

Those who do so will gain immediate access to two UK Active reports Evidence Review of the current barriers and facilitators of disabled people’s engagement with gyms, fitness and leisure centres and Understanding the participation of disabled people at gyms, Fitness and leisure facilities through data capture, as well as a disability fact sheet for the health and fitness industry.

The fact sheet shows how improving access to fitness facilities for the disabled community is a societal necessity – one in five people in the UK are disabled and research from the Activity Alliance has found that 81 per cent say they want to increase the amount of exercise they do. There is also a commercial opportunity with the “purple pound” valued at £249bn per year.

Grey-Thompson, a Former Paralympian, said: “The physical activity sector has a huge opportunity to engage more with disabled people, helping many more to enjoy the benefits of being active.

“The best way to drive real change is through open and honest collaboration across our sectors, which is why we have created the Everyone Can Task Force.

“Together, the leaders within this group can help support fitness and leisure facilities to make sport and physical activity available to all.”

Huw Edwards, UK Active’s CEO said: “The physical activity sector has an essential role to play in narrowing the inequalities faced by disabled people.

"We're delighted to launch the Everyone Can Task Force, which has a broad and strong membership that will help us to reach all parts of the sector – in partnership with the disability sector.

“Through this task force we'll redouble our efforts to make sure barriers are further reduced so that whoever you are, you'll be able to take part in physical activity if you wish.”

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England and the government’s disability and access ambassador for sport and physical activity said: “Everyone should have the same opportunities to get active to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, but we know that many disabled people do not and are more likely to be inactive.

“There's a lot of work to do to ensure sport and physical activity feels genuinely welcoming and inclusive for all disabled people and the Everyone Can Task Force is an important step towards achieving this."

Members of the task force include:

Activity Alliance: Barry Horne, CEO

Helene Raynsford, Paralympic rowing champion; public health and sport consultant

CIMSPA: Tara Dillon, CEO

Everyone Active: Ben Beevers, Group Development Director

GLL: Andrew Clark, National Sports and Aquatics Manager

Places Leisure: Sarah Roberts, Head of Fitness

PureGym: Julia McMullan, Director of Central Operations

Swimming Teachers Association: Dave Candler, CEO

Sport England: Adam Blaze, Strategic Lead, Disability

The Gym Group: Rachel Shinn, D&I and Wellbeing Lead, and Sarah Grime, Head of Format

UK Active: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Chair, and Huw Edwards, CEO




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