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Plans unveiled to make physical activity facilities more inclusive for disabled people

Disabled people are less active because they have traditionally been excluded from the leisure industry and other physical activity provision – they have told us that the barriers they face include lack of information, support and physical access
– Kamran Mallick, chief executive, Disability Rights UK

Leisure operators have joined a new scheme to give disabled people and those with long-term health conditions better access to physical activity opportunities.

The initiative will create flagship sites with six operators – PureGym, David Lloyd Leisure, Everyone Active, Virgin Active, GLL and Places for People – which will test, validate and promote changes that can be made to improve disabled people’s active use of leisure facilities.

Announced by the minister of state for disabled people, work and health, Penny Mordaunt MP, the initiative will be led by ukactive, Sport England, Disability Rights UK and the English Federation of Disability Sport.

“The aim of this partnership is to create a cultural shift and change in perceptions around disabled people’s participation in physical activity, and to create a national ambition within the physical activity sector to become more inclusive for disabled people,” Mordaunt said.

The scheme will identify activity levels, facility usage and sector engagement, using insight from disabled people and operators within the industry. It will explore the customer journey that disabled people experience and detail “the difficulties disabled people experience in participating in physical activity”.

During her speech at the ukactive National Summit in London last week, Mordaunt cited official figures which found that “disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive than non-disabled people, are more likely to be socially isolated and lonely, and more likely to be unemployed”.

Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, added: “Disabled people are less active because they have traditionally been excluded from the leisure industry and other physical activity provision. They have told us that the barriers they face include lack of information, support and physical access.

“On a personal level, I look forward to being able to go into leisure facilities and actually use the equipment and activities available.”

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