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National charity Sense is awarded £1.3 million by Sport England

Two men playing table tennis in wheelchairs with supporter all smiling

People with complex disabilities in England will have a greater opportunity to participate in sport and physical activity thanks to major new funding announced today. It follows research by Sport England showing that one in two people with complex disabilities get less than thirty minutes exercise each week, affecting their physical and mental wellbeing.

The national disability charity, Sense, has been awarded £1,338,449 by Sport England to tackle the issue of ‘inactivity’ amongst people with complex disabilities, which has a detrimental effect on physical health and mental wellbeing.

According to research* carried out by Sport England, inactivity (less than thirty minutes exercise a week) is more common for disabled people (42%) than non-disabled people (21%). Furthermore, it increases sharply as the number of impairments an individual has increases – 51% of people with complex disabilities are inactive.

Today’s funding, from Sport England through the National Lottery, will enable Sense to expand its programme of sports provision, working with local partners to run accessible sport sessions in London and the South East, the West Midlands, the East,  South West and Yorkshire . The sessions will support more than two and half thousand people with high-level support needs, aged from 5 to 50+, to access sport and physical activity over the next three years. Living Sport will be one of the local partners in the East to work with Sense and extend the partnership they already have.

Sense National Sports Manager, Alissa Ayling, said:

“Over half of all people with complex disabilities miss out on participating in sport and physical exercise, which is vital for keeping healthy, learning new skills and making new friends.

Today’s funding will enable us to create lifelong opportunities for people with complex disabilities to be active by establishing meaningful, engaging, and local opportunities to take part in sport and physical activity.”

Sport England Strategic Lead Disability, Adam Blaze, said:

“We are delighted to announce today’s investment into Sense, continuing their excellent work supporting people with complex disabilities to enjoy the benefits that increased physical activity brings, such as improvements to mental wellbeing and social connectedness.

We know from our Active Lives research that inactivity levels are unacceptably high for people with multiple impairments. This investment, in addition to creating opportunities through direct delivery with the expansion of Sense’s existing programme of delivery, will upskill the workforce and influence the sports and physical activity sector to be more inclusive for people with multiple and complex disabilities.”

John France, 58, from Rotherham, has cerebral palsy and a learning disability.  He recently started attending sport sessions in his local area, run by Sense.

John said:

“Making friends and seeing people gives me confidence.

Sport sessions allow me to do that and it’s great.”

In addition to new regional sport sessions, Sense will influence and equip the sports, health and social care sectors so that mainstream settings and sessions become more accessible for disabled people. Sense is partnering with Disability Rights UK in adapting physical activity guidelines for support staff, and will gather insight to help evaluate the benefits of sport and physical activity for people with complex disabilities

To find out more about Sense, and its programme to increase the range of sport and physical activities available to people with complex disabilities, visit: www.sense.org.uk/sport

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