Paralympic legacy needs help, says Vitalise survey one year on from the Paralympics

Vitalise logoFollow up survey by disability charity Vitalise finds Paralympic feel-good factor may be on the wane

In a follow up to a survey conducted in the wake of the 2012 London Paralympics, a new  survey by disability charity Vitalise one year on from the Games has found that the feel-good factor is flagging and urgent work is needed to sustain the legacy of the Games.

Despite hopes that the Games would change attitudes, improve understanding and lead to greater inclusion of people with disabilities in society, Vitalise’s study has found that 6 out of 10 (59%) of people with disabilities say there has been no perceptible change to their lives one year on from the Games, increasing from 40% who said the same immediately afterwards.

Suggesting that the Paralympic legacy may be on the wane, 7 out of 10 respondents believe the general public does not have a better understanding of the day to day lives of people with disabilities, compared with 5 out of 10 (54%) directly after the Games, and only 7 out of 10 respondents think the public’s perception of people with disabilities has changed, compared with 8 out of 10 this time last year.

As a result, only half (50%) of the people with disabilities and carers surveyed feel more positive one year on from the games, compared with three quarters (74%) immediately after the Games.

However, the survey also revealed some good news – 7 out of 10 think the media has picked up the Paralympic baton in showcasing more content about disability.

What’s more, the Vitalise survey also revealed an almost unanimous will to keep the Paralympic flame burning. Nearly all those surveyed – 97% – think more needs to be done to sustain the Paralympic legacy, while 86% think it is very important for society to sustain and build on the legacy.

The survey was conducted online between 16 and 23 August, primarily among the people with disabilities who have taken much-needed respite breaks with Vitalise, also their carers and the volunteers who support them. 68% of the respondents were people with disabilities and carers.

In the light of the findings, Vitalise is urging society as a whole to do more to reinvigorate and sustain the Paralympic legacy beyond the first anniversary of the Games by engaging with the day to day lives of people with disabilities and helping them play a much more significant role in society.

Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:

“The London 2012 Paralympics were a glorious demonstration of the power people have to overcome any barrier and inspired disabled and non-disabled people alike. It would be a crying shame if that outpouring of goodwill and enthusiasm were allowed to fade away. Sadly, our survey shows that just one year on from the Games, that amazing legacy may be in trouble.

“But it’s not all doom and gloom. According to our survey, the media has certainly done its bit to keep the flame burning and nearly everyone wants more to be done to preserve the legacy.

“Vitalise has been supporting people with disabilities and carers for 50 years now, so we know that it takes hard work and dedication to sustain a vision, but our survey proves that the will of the people is there.

“That’s why we’re calling for people from all sectors of society to get behind the Paralympic legacy and do what they can to ensure the capabilities and achievements of people with disabilities are not forgotten and that they are given every opportunity to play a meaningful and productive part in society.”

Vitalise Ambassador and medal-winning Boccia Paralympian David Smith added:

“As a Paralympian I was proud to take part in the London Games and be part of that great showcase for the achievements of people with disabilities.

But I’m also aware that the vast majority of people with disabilities may never have the opportunity I had, but they are just as motivated to make the most of their abilities and make a contribution to society. All they’re asking for is a level playing field.

That’s why I’m backing Vitalise’s campaign to keep the Paralympic flame burning through the decades to come. We must never allow all that hard work to go to waste.”

Vitalise has been providing essential short breaks for people with disabilities and carers at its three accessible UK centres since 1963 and is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2013. Find out more about Vitalise at www.vitalise.org.uk

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