Who says? The new campaign calling time on negative perceptions

  • Who says it’s not a real sport if you have to adapt it?
  • Who says disabled people aren’t competitive?
Photo credit: Activity Alliance

A new exciting campaign from Activity Alliance is calling time on negative perceptions about disability, inclusion and sport and asks – who says?

For far too long disabled people have faced misconceptions and presumptions on what is and isn’t possible, including in sport. Leading national charity, Activity Alliance, wants to move the conversations on, open people’s minds and shift out-dated views on disability. Who says? gives positive evidence that replaces these negative ideas.

Launched on 15 July, who says? was created in response to the charity’s recent research, which explored non-disabled people’s attitudes on inclusive activity. The findings show a lack of understanding could be causing long-lasting barriers for disabled people, leading to inactivity. For the least active audience in our country, people’s attitudes can make or break activity experiences.

Who says we can’t break down barriers?

In reality, disabled people have countless personal experiences that lead to marginalisation, low confidence and inactivity.

Who says? empowers people, on and off the field of play, to challenge their own and others’ perceptions. But, here are some facts that need serious consideration:

  • Disabled people are twice as likely to be physically inactive as non-disabled people. Although we saw an increase recently, the number of active disabled people remains resistant to growth. [i]
  • The main barriers to being active are psychological, logistical and physical, with psychological the most influential. This is, disabled people’s personal impression of sport and non-disabled people’s attitudes about disabled people playing sport.[ii]
  • Two thirds (64 per cent) of disabled people would prefer to take part in sport with both disabled and non-disabled people, currently only half (51 per cent) are doing so. [iii]
  • Research shows almost half of disabled people fear losing their benefits if they are seen to be physically active.[iv] 
  • Only 14 per cent of non-disabled people are aware of having previously taken part in sport with disabled people. But three quarters (73%) of non-disabled people were open to the idea. [v]

To kick it off, the campaign films challenge six findings from the research. The films provide upbeat insight with a mixture of disabled and non-disabled people. They share their own experiences and feelings on these six statements:

  1. It’s not a real sport if you have to adapt it
  2. Disabled people aren’t competitive
  3. Watch what you say around disabled people
  4. Disabled people don’t want to join in
  5. Disabled people might get hurt
  6. Everyone can’t take part together

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for Activity Alliance, said:

“Negative experiences should not be allowed to continually shape disabled people’s lives. This campaign aims to replace misconceptions with reality. If we truly want everybody to benefit from being active, then we need to call time on negative perceptions. The positive messages in our campaign provide a fresh and authentic view of the sports world. We are asking you to join us in creating a movement built solidly on equality, freedom and choice.” 

Adam Blaze, Sport England’s Strategic Lead for Disability, said:

“We are delighted to see the launch of the Who Says campaign which will challenge negative-perceptions disabled people face when getting active while encouraging people of all abilities to get active together. Views that disabled people don’t want to join in, might get hurt or that everyone can’t take part together are just some of the perceptions that prevent disabled people from being active. The campaign tackles these myths head on showing that we can all do more to break down the barriers and challenge negative perceptions facing disabled people wanting to get involved in sport and physical activity.”

Who says you can’t be part of the movement?

The first campaign phase will run for six weeks over summer. Whilst the who says? movement begins, we are calling for you to get involved in the campaign by posting your own experiences using #WhoSays. Share our films and make your own to add your voice to the campaign.  

Tell us your who says? You could be a disabled person who has challenged someone’s attitude whilst being active. Your organisation wants to share positive stories. Or your company plans to use the campaign to release new funding focused on inclusion.

Beyond the hashtag

Taking the conversation beyond the #WhoSays hashtag is important to us. It’s crucial we talk honestly and openly about matters that affect disabled people’s activity, like policy, funding and promotion. We hope the campaign leads to bigger conversations, greater collaboration and wider systemic responses.

If your organisation would like to get involved and you have a great idea for the campaign, please contact news@activityalliance.org.uk or call 0161 228 2868.

We can’t challenge perceptions and change the reality of disability, inclusion and sport. Who says?!

Watch the perception collection here [Live on 15 July].

Find out more www.activityalliance.org.uk/whosays [Live on 15 July]


[i] Sport England Active Lives Survey

[ii] Activity Alliance Lifestyle Report

[iii] Activity Alliance Lifestyle Report

[iv] Activity Alliance The Activity Trap

[v] Activity Alliance Taking Part with Disabled People

Activity Alliance releases latest engagement resources

Today Activity Alliance has added to its suite of support with a set of engagement factsheets. From planning opportunities to measuring impact, the resources help providers to strengthen their work, enabling organisations to engage more disabled people to be and stay active for life.

The latest Sport England Active Lives Survey (11 April 2019) showed that activity levels are rising, particularly for women and disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. Despite these recent positive results, the stark reality is disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people.

Now is the ideal time to increase our efforts to engage more disabled people and these latest resources are extremely timely for providers across many sectors. Supported by Sport England, Activity Alliance is encouraging those who plan and deliver opportunities to think about the ways they include disabled people. The updated resources cover ten topics and are free to download:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Effective engagement
  3. Engagement through research and insight
  4. Gathering and using insight on disabled people
  5. Accessible and inclusive communications
  6. Engaging older people
  7. Understanding children and young people
  8. Supporters’ roles in engaging disabled people
  9. Engaging all women in sport and physical activity
  10. Performance measurement and learning

Activity Alliance has a team of Advisors to support local and national work. The Engagement Advisors cover nine regions across England. Along with National Advisors, they support key strategic partners, including Active Partnerships and National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs).

Ray Ashley, Head of Engagement for Activity Alliance, said:

“We know there is more than one way to engage disabled people and no set plan to ensure disabled people can take part in sport or active recreation. We want to empower organisations by providing the right support, connections and insight, so that more disabled people can access meaningful and sustainable opportunities. These resources are a great first step in learning more about effective engagement and our expert advisors are available to give detailed guidance if you need more support.”

To access the new resources, visit the engagement page on the Activity Alliance website.

English Federation of Disability Sport changes name to Activity Alliance

English Federation of Disability Sport changes name to Activity Alliance

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) has announced that they are changing their name.

A first of many milestones in the charity’s 20th anniversary year, from Thursday 26 April 2018 EFDS will be operating as Activity Alliance.

Commenting on the new name, Barry Horne Chief Executive of Activity Alliance said:

“We are the same team with the same passionate focus on disability, inclusion and sport, but with an exciting new name and image. Through our work with amazing people and influential world-renowned activity programmes for disabled people, we know the time is right for us to embrace this change.

“Activity Alliance brings our members, partners and disabled people together to make active lives possible. Collectively, we continue to challenge perceptions and change the reality of disability, inclusion and sport.”

A brand identity has been developed to support the organisation’s new name and wider remit, which is being introduced a few months ahead of the charity’s 20th anniversary in September.

The change follows a thorough strategic review that included research about the charity’s purpose and its impact. As part of the review, the charity carried out stakeholder consultations with staff, member organisations, disabled people and partners.

The feedback consensus was that the original name, ‘English Federation of Disability Sport’ limited the organisation’s potential.

The review concluded that a new direction and wider remit were needed around well-being, activity and health, creating the opportunity for the charity to deliver greater impact for disabled people.

Find more information on Activity Alliance on their refreshed website www.activityalliance.org.uk and www.activityalliance.org.uk/brand

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