Report gives insight on sports club provision for disabled people

EFDSA report on the recent Sport and Recreation Alliance’s Sports Club Survey 2013 has been released by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). The findings provide more details on what is currently available to disabled people through the club setting, as well as support to the sector to understand the gaps in participation.

The Sports Club Survey 2013 was the largest ever survey of sports clubs in the UK. Nearly 3,000 sports clubs across more than 100 different sports took part to give the Sport and Recreation Alliance (the Alliance) a full look at the health of the UK’s grassroots community clubs. As in previous Sports Club Surveys, the data was weighted to represent the estimated 151,000 sports clubs thought to be in existence across the UK.

EFDS and the Alliance ensured data collected contained more information regarding disabled people’s participation. On conclusion of the main report, EFDS looked at the disability data in greater detail to provide an additional analysis. The focus was on the differences depending on the type of provision a club offers disabled people. There were four different types of provision:

  • Offering no opportunities for disabled people
  • Being a designated club, only for disabled people
  • Offering inclusive provision, where disabled and non-disabled people take part together in the sport
  • Offering parallel provision, where disabled people are members of a club, but take part in separate parallel sessions to non-disabled people.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive of EFDS said:

“We want to ensure disabled people, who look for local opportunities, can be guaranteed a quality experience once at the club. Clubs are often the first point for people to take part in sport, so disabled people need to know that clubs value their membership and will support them too. Importantly, what this report recognises is that a high proportion of clubs want to do more to include disabled people in their activities.”

Among key findings identified within the report were:

  • Clubs that focus solely on disabled people have a staff to participant ratio of 1:3, much higher than parallel clubs (1:8) or inclusive clubs (1:10)
  • Two thirds (68 per cent) of sports clubs overall state that they do not have access to suitable equipment for disabled people to take part in their sport
  • Less than one in ten (eight per cent) of all club staff or volunteers have received training in adapting their sport for disabled people
  • One in three sports clubs and organisations have links with other organisations that could support them with disabled members

The response to the equipment question highlights a key area of interest within the report. Often it is a common misconception in sport that equipment for disabled people is different or expensive. It can be based on a judgement that all disabled people may require sports wheelchairs. In fact, statistics show that the majority of impairments are not visible and less than eight per cent of disabled people use wheelchairs (Papworth Trust). Therefore, in the majority of the cases, no extra equipment may be required in a club, the individuals may provide their own, or it is a small cost. Crucially, to be an accessible and inclusive sports club, the most important element is to plan ahead and have a continued commitment to inclusion.

Almost five in ten sports clubs claim to offer inclusive provision for disabled people- where disabled and non-disabled people take part together. Previous research conducted by EFDS highlighted that this is the most preferred setting for disabled people. At first glance, this latent demand shows the club results to appear quite positive. However, on greater analysis there appears to be a mixed response on what true inclusion means. Therefore, some of these clubs may need to address a number of issues before considering themselves fully inclusive. Based on this analysis, EFDS believes this particular figure should be treated with caution.

Andy Reed OBE, Chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said:

“The issue of disability sport provision in the UK has really come to the fore of late, particularly in light of the incredible success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The event allowed us to publicly debate where the opportunities lie for disability sport, and have been a testament to how far disability sport has come in recent years.  But the results of our Sports Club Survey suggest that we still have further to go to translate this will and enthusiasm into effective provision at grassroots level.

This report will help to give a baseline understanding of the current club provision. The findings will then be used to compare with those, when the next Sports Club Survey is completed in 2015, to identify changes as well as improvements.

EFDS and the Sport and Recreation Alliance will continue to work in partnership to build upon and improve the insight the sector has on disabled people in sport.

The report is available to download using this link

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