• WheelPower: Talking about Taking Part

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    • WheelPower: Talking about Taking Part

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    This report caught my eye this week:


    It comes from WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport which aims to provide, promote and develop opportunities for disabled people to participate in sport and physical activity and lead healthy active lives.

    It’s a great report with lots of nice graphics that illustrate simply and strongly what the issues are. Well done to WheelPower for such a clear and compelling report.

    So what were the figures which leapt out at me:

    • Clearly transport is not the main part of the story. The main barriers to taking part in sport are the lack of opportunity and lack of accessible venues.
    • The lack of accessible venues also had an impact on the distance a person may have to travel to access a suitable opportunity. Travelling distance was therefore the sixth most common barrier to taking part in sport.
    • Just over half of the respondents spend 30 minutes or more travelling to take part in sport and 80 per cent were doing so by car.
    • Wheelchair users have a range of preference of how they want to take part in sport so we shouldn’t make assumptions. Around one quarter wanted to take part on their own but many more people wanted to take part with other wheelchair users (49 per cent) and with both disabled and non-disabled people (64 per cent).
    • It was clear though that there is a strong desire for there to be activities that are called wheelchair sport, and that disability sport was seen as the most off-putting label.

    What can community transport do?

    Reading it got me thinking that community transport is well placed to help address this and, in many instances, it is already involved.

    Across all four nations of the UK, the second most common user of community transport services, after older people, are disabled people, some of whom will be wheelchair users.

    Our survey of members in England in 2014 found that 70 per cent of community transport organisations used wheelchair accessible vehicles. 35 per cent of respondents also said they were supporting people to access recreational or sports facilities/activities. Clearly we don’t have the detail of how this breaks down by sport or activities but its nevertheless a good sign that we’re working on this already.

    As well as providing their own transport services, community transport operators are also providing vehicles (and often drivers as well) to other groups in the community to enable people to access their activities and services, which includes sports clubs.

    We’re thinking we should talk to WheelPower to see if there is any information we can offer to their beneficiaries to improve access to sport through increasing their awareness of different travel options. Before we do, we’d like some examples of good stuff that you’re doing already.

    I’d like to hear from staff and volunteers working in community transport or other charities who feel they have good examples of services or partnerships they’re involved in that help wheelchair users to access sport and recreation.

    If you work in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and have a story to tell us please get in touch via hello@ctauk.org.

    We’re also delighted that WheelPower patron Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE is coming to our ‘Can Transport Innovation be Pro-Social’ event hosted by KPMG next week and is hosting a dinner afterwards, so we may get to chat to her about it too!

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