New video to help healthcare professionals support disabled people to be active

Disabled people are currently the least active group in society, and twice as likely as non-disabled people to be physically inactive. Healthcare professionals are an important point of contact, and system of referral, for disabled people looking to be active. Evidence shows that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a healthcare professional[i]. Ahead of World Health Day, Activity Alliance releases a short feature film for healthcare professionals on supporting disabled people to be active.

Highlighting how health and sport organisations can work together effectively to break down barriers, the national charity hopes it leads to more local and national collaboration. In partnership with Public Health England and supported by Sport England, the film introduces the urgent case for change so more disabled people can reap physical and mental health benefits.

As well as highlighting excellent examples, the film contributors give advice on ways others can embed sport and activity into their work. It compliments the Moving Healthcare Professionals programme, led by Sport England and Public Health England. In the film, leaders from Public Health England and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists outline how greater health outcomes can come through an active lifestyle. With support from healthcare professionals, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions can take part in more opportunities.

One of the contributors, Dr Mike Brannan, National Lead for Physical Activity at Public Health England said:

“There are 11.5 million disabled people in England[ii] but they are twice as likely to be inactive than non-disabled people[iii]. This highlights a continued barrier that prevents disabled people from being active.

“It is important that disabled people do not miss out on the benefits of being active and there is great work being undertaken in England to address these inequalities. Activity Alliance’s new health video highlights the significant potential in the health and sport sector working to support disabled people being more active.”

Genevieve Smyth, Professional Advisor at Royal College of Occupational Therapists, said:

“Supporting people to take part in their chosen sport or other physical activity should be everybody’s business in health care. Making personalised care a reality means focusing on people’s strengths, balancing choice and risk. It’s too easy to think sport is risky or too difficult. Many of the barriers disabled people face to physical activity are attitudinal and healthcare professionals need to recognise that physical activity as a clinically effective intervention. Environments can be adapted and activities can be changed to make them accessible, but this only works if we initiate and then consistently build physical activity into health interventions.”

Sport for Confidence is one initiative featured in the new film. A social enterprise that runs throughout Essex, the team supports people who face barriers to participation to get involved in a variety of sporting activities in mainstream settings.

Representatives from Yorkshire Sport Foundation’s Creating Connections programme talk about their success at a regional level. This referral programme operates across South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire. They aim to change lives by supporting local people to get involved in community sport and activity. We hear from visually impaired bowls player, Leanne, on how Creating Connections has supported her to be active again and how it benefits her health.

Barry Horne, Activity Alliance Chief Executive, said:

“Our research shows that seven in ten disabled people want to be more active[iv], but participation is not growing at the rate it needs to. There is significant work to do and we cannot do it alone. Collaboration, especially with disabled people, is key to changing the status quo. We are delighted to work with key leaders in health and sport to ensure more disabled people have access to and enjoy opportunities to be active. This film is a starting point for thousands of healthcare professionals.”

Sarah Ruane, Strategic lead – health at Sport England said:

“We know that healthcare professionals play a hugely influential role in advising their patients to get active. That’s why we are equipping them with practical information that they need to have supportive conversations through the Moving Healthcare Professional programme. These conversations are even more important if an individual feels daunted by the prospect of getting active due to a health diagnosis, injury or disability. The film released today highlights the impact we can have by overcoming these barriers through bridging the gap between the health and sport sectors.”

To coincide with the film release and in recognition of World Health Day (Sunday 7 April 2019), Activity Alliance will be hosting an hour Twitter chat between 1pm – 2pm on Friday 5 April to talk about health, inclusion and sport. Join in the conversation with @AllForActivity and hashtag #InclusiveActivity.

If you are a healthcare professional looking for more information and guidance then please visit

You can view the video here


Activity Alliance:

For further information on Activity Alliance, please contact: Laila Issa, Communications Advisor, email

Cerebral Palsy Sport:

For more information about Cerebral Palsy Sport events click here

For more information about Cerebral Palsy Sport Training and Resources for professionals click here

Article references:

[i] Source: NHS Digital. Health Survey for England – 2007: Healthy lifestyles: knowledge, attitudes and behaviour

[ii] Source: DWP Family Resources Survey 2015-2016

[iii] Source: Sport England, Active Lives 1 2015-16

[iv] Activity Alliance lifestyle report from September 2013

Landmark report reveals children’s activity levels for the first time

Findings from Sport England’s new research; ‘Active Lives Children and Young People’ highlights that there are 2.3 million children and young people who are doing less than 30 minutes of activity a day. ‘Active Lives Children and Young People’ is the largest ever survey of its kind, and provides comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in sport and physical activity both in and out of school.

The research report identifies the collation between being active and positive health and mental wellbeing as well as personal development.  The reports clearly states that more needs to be done to increase activity levels of children and young people, something that Cerebral Palsy Sport fully supports and will help to address.

Finding include:

  • Around 3 million children (43.3%) lead active lives, doing an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day.
  • Among active children, only the most active 1.2m (17.5% of total) are meeting the CMO guideline of 60+ minutes of activity a day, every day of the week.
  • Just over 2.3 million children and young people (32.9%) are less active which means they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • A further 1.7m (23.9%) are fairly active, doing 30-59 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth calls for a focus on the health and wellbeing of young people with system-wide change.

Cerebral Palsy Sport’s vision is to support people with cerebral palsy and associated physical impairments, to reach their potential through active recreation. Our 2019 Sport Development programme consists of 40 events and activities that will provide opportunities for children and young people to access sport, often for the first time, and continue to participate on a regular basis.

To find out more about what events we have planned please click here

To download and read the Sport England report please visit






Make volunteering in sport more appealing for disabled people – new research finds

New research released today on International Volunteer Day (5 December) will enable providers to improve their volunteering opportunities, especially for disabled people. The report, ‘Encouraging disabled people to volunteer in sport’, explores the barriers to volunteering and the drivers that could improve its appeal.

Cerebral Palsy Sport alongside the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and the other seven National Disability Sports Organisations and Sport England commissioned the project. It aims to understand more on volunteering in sport, as well as to improve the quality and number of opportunities for disabled people. The researchers involved almost 1,500 disabled and non-disabled people in the report and compared the differences in perception and experience of volunteering between the two audiences.

The findings guide providers on how and when disabled people volunteer generally and the extent to which they volunteer in sport. They highlight the different ways in which disabled people commonly volunteer and their interest in sports volunteering. These can help providers to encourage and support more disabled people to volunteer in sport.

One key finding explores the reason disabled people may not volunteer in sport. It shows the impact disabled people’s low participation in sport has on volunteering. Disabled people who volunteer in sport are twice as likely as non-disabled people to have taken part before. This suggests that the sport sector is not something that appeals to disabled people who have not been part of it previously. Concern about the need for volunteers to be frequently involved (at least once a week) arose in responses. Disabled people can be fearful of regular commitment due to fluctuating health problems.

Other key findings included:

  • There is a desire from disabled people to volunteer, but they are more likely to have negative experiences. Almost half (47 per cent) of disabled people currently volunteer generally compared to just over a third (34 per cent) of non-disabled people. Almost half of disabled people have had a negative experience when volunteering (48 per cent) compared to a third of non-disabled people (33 per cent).
  • Despite disabled people’s higher level of interest in volunteering in society generally, this is not reflected in their level of interest in volunteering in sport. Levels of volunteering in sport for disabled and non-disabled people are the same (21 per cent).
  • Disabled people are much more likely to recognise and experience barriers to volunteering. Their concern is in relation to the impact their impairment will have on their ability to volunteer. In addition, providers of volunteering opportunities feel that they lack the skills and ability to support disabled people fully in their volunteering roles.
  • There is often a mismatch between the expectations of providers and volunteers about what the roles entail and too often organisations give insufficient thought to the distinctive needs of volunteers as opposed to participants. This plays a significant part in creating a negative experience for disabled volunteers.
  • Providers do not routinely ask or capture whether volunteers have impairments or long-term health conditions. This means providers’ awareness of disabled volunteers and their needs is low, and they are less confident in how to support disabled people.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive of EFDS, said:

“We know that volunteers are vital in sport and active recreation. Not only do they help to boost the number of activities available, but develop leaders and role models in sport. Disabled people offer useful skills that can be extremely valuable and it is a missed opportunity not to draw from their lived experiences.

“It is clear in these findings that the knock-on effect of the low numbers of disabled people taking part in sport, is that there is less appeal in sports volunteering. We hope more providers improve their opportunities to all volunteers, but crucially work towards engaging and retaining more disabled volunteers.”

Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England, said:

“The contribution of 6.7 million volunteers in sport is immense. It helps individuals get more active, it benefits local communities, and it can do wonders for the volunteers themselves. However, as this new report identifies, there’s a lot to do to make the experience more attractive to disabled people. We need to work on attracting more disabled people to volunteering in sport and activity and ensure they have a great experience when they do get involved. We hope that the whole sport and physical activity sector embraces this challenge.”

International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly, is held each year on 5 December. It is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organisations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work.

The report is available to download here: 

Read the executive summary here 

Use  to follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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