Barry Horne is Chief Executive of the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). EFDS exists to make active lives possible and ensure that millions of disabled people can lead active lifestyles. Dedicated to disabled people in sport and physical activity, EFDS supports a wide range of organisations to include disabled people more effectively. The national charity looks to a better future where everyone can enjoy the opportunities available. Established in September 1998, EFDS has a vision that disabled people are active for life.
Here, Horne blogs on the crucial role that supporters have in disabled people’s lives to be and stay active.
EFDS puts disabled people at the heart of all our work and particularly in our research and insight. Increasingly, within our research, disabled people are telling us about the importance of the support they call upon in order to be active.
Our Supporting Me to Be Active report highlights supporters’ influence in making active lives possible.
Eight in 10 supporters say they have some level of influence in encouraging disabled people to be active. That’s just one key finding from a report we released at the start of the year.
We want the report to help guide providers on how to engage with these supporters and help increase disabled people’s activity levels.
Supporting Me To Be Active demonstrates the important role people who support disabled people play, whether in a professional or personal capacity. Nine in 10 told us that they felt they provided a range of emotional or practical support to enable a disabled person to be active.
Six in 10 said one of their key supporter roles was to act as a motivator or inspirer, generating participation ideas and suggesting activities that they think most suitable for the disabled person.
A supporter for a person with cerebral palsy, physical and learning impairments told EFDS: “It is very important for me to motivate – if I didn’t he’d be at home all day.”
Supporting Me To Be Active also showed that practical support is often crucial. Six in 10 said they offered logistical and organisational support, helping a disabled person to access an activity.
“We had to find a place that was near enough… to walk to, or that we could drive to easily,” said one.
Another supporter added: “I have to look at where it is, what it is, what it entails, how much it costs.”
At EFDS, we know through our own research that many disabled people often have smaller social networks, upon which they rely for day-to-day support.
Supporting Me To Be Active shares our discussions with those who regularly support disabled people, to understand their views in more depth. These are friends, family, and even professional paid support. The people in these networks can play a significant role in encouraging more disabled people to be active.
I am very proud of the report which shows the impact supporters can have on disabled people’s participation. Key to their influence is the relationship the supporter has with the disabled person and the extent to which they are active themselves.
In addition, it’s about how willing people are to recommend sport and physical activity to the disabled person. Findings pinpoint particular areas for improvement, such as marketing, which can influence more supporters to choose their opportunities.
In addition to Supporting Me To Be Active, I’d strongly recommend taking a look at our Motivate Me and Talk to Me reports, which have been key to many organisations’ future thinking. These reports add to a collection of useful insight we are building to gain a bigger picture of disabled people’s lives, especially when it comes to sport and physical activity.
You can read the full report here
Find out more about EFDS