“A lot of activities are split into either physical and learning difficulties or high and low functioning. These types of pigeon-holed groups do not suit Ellie and her complex needs.There is also a lack of activities in the borough for teenagers that are not high functioning.”
It's a sad fact that disabled people are half as likely to be active as non-disabled people - just 17% of disabled people take part in physical activity once a week. This increases the risk of disabled people suffering from conditions like heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Alongside the physical impacts, this lack of activity severely affects mental wellbeing. Shockingly, almost 70% of disabled people say they have felt chronically lonely within the past year.
To combat this, we set up 13 community clubs across London to provide vital weekly sport and physical activity opportunities for disabled people of all ages. Each club welcomes people of all ages and disabilities. In 2018, 401 people attended our clubs. We also hold hugely popular events during the school holidays, when provision for disabled people is often reduced, so they can continue to enjoy the benefits. For example, our annual Summer Festival brings together 400 disabled people to enjoy a jam-packed day of sport and fun activities.
Our clubs have a profound impact on physical wellbeing. Since joining their local club, 70% have doubled their weekly activity, benefiting from improved long-term fitness.
Vitally, we also have a huge impact on mental wellbeing. Our clubs bring disabled people together with others in their local community, helping to share experiences and build wider networks of support. Our members tell us at since joining their local club, they feel 97% more confident, are 93% better at socialising, and 93% happier.
“Since attending the weekly club, Ellie is more willing to try new sports and becomes more confident especially when she realises that she can participate in an activity rather than just watch. Club Wandsworth is an absolute life line for us and Ellie. The coaches and volunteers are amazing at adapting everything for Ellie and the other club members in a bespoke way, rather than just a preconception of what Ellie should be able to do according to her labels.”
Key to our success is our workforce. We're proud that 45% of our workforce have a disability, towering above the national average of 6%. This has a huge impact on the self-esteem of our members, who see positive disability role models deliver their sessions each week. 50% of our coaches are female, further promoting equality and diversity. This provides positive role models and a greater understanding of needs in local communities.
In recognition of our employment model and inclusiveness, we won the 2019 Workforce Award from London Sport.
While we're proud of our achievements, we have much more to do. Many disabled people across London and the UK still do not benefit from regular physical activity, being excluded from inaccessible mainstream activities. With your support, we can ensure disabled children and adults are inspired to be more active and enjoy the life-changing benefits of sport.
There's lots of ways to get involved, from sponsoring a local club to donating from product sales. For example, you could donate £1 per product sale or 5% of a client invoice. However you get involved you'll be making a huge difference.
Check out our social media and our videos to see our work in action! We look forward to hearing from you.