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New Government Strategy Ignores Inaccessibility of Physical Activity

The government has launched a new strategy with an aim of getting 3.5 million people more active, but with very little acknowledgement of the current inaccessibility of activity for groups such as Disabled people.

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The initiative has a target of getting an additional 3.5 million people physically active by 2030, as part of the government’s new sport strategy which “sets out a blueprint” to improve the nation’s health and fitness. 

Figures from the Sport England Active Lives Survey indicate that 25% of adults are currently deemed to be inactive in England, with over 11 million doing less than 30 minutes of activity in total a week. 

And statistics indicate that 53% of children and young people are not meeting the guidance of taking part in at least 60 minutes of activity a day.  

The new participation targets include over 2.5 million adults and over 1 million children and they claim are intended to reach people of all ages and backgrounds. 

The strategy does concede the gap in participation for Disabled people has been as a result of inaccessibility, as it states “For too long, disability sport and inclusion have been overlooked or treated as afterthoughts, which is helping to widen the gap in participation. We are committed to changing this, and championing inclusion in sport. We demonstrated this commitment at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which had the largest parasport programme of any Commonwealth Games.” 

However, we are less than satisfied with a report aimed at improving activity without any acknowledgement of the barriers groups such as Disabled people face when trying to be more active. 

Our response

 Mikey Erhardt, Campaigner at Disability Rights UK, said: 

 “The Government has launched another strategy that is dense in prose but short on action. Census data shows that one in five people are Disabled, and we are one of the most inactive groups in the UK. We are beyond the need to identify barriers; we know what they are. What we need is for government and service providers to be bold in taking collective measures to overcome them. 

Unsurprisingly, a strategy put together without input from Disabled People’s Organisations has failed to encompass the changes we want to see. At Disability Rights UK, the answer is clear – centring our voices will improve our lives. As Disabled people leading change, we champion our right to participate in and benefit from physical activity. Any strategy worth its weight on paper must link physical activity access to the health and social care systems, tackling the barriers preventing us from being active. 

 Inclusive delivery is vital alongside the continued development of grassroots organisations, community sports, and physical activity. Local spaces are crucial to support Disabled people to exercise their right to get active, have fun, and be part of a community. By focusing on how sport can be co-produced with Disabled people at its heart, giving it the funding, and developing the collective expertise to include us from the start, we can open up a new world of activity for Disabled people – one we have all been waiting too long for.” 

Next Steps

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