Inclusive sport drive helps hundreds of young south Londoners

Young disabled south Londoners will get access to sport thanks to new funding for a charity tackling shocking levels of inequality, isolation and poor health.

Access Sport will train 60 new volunteers at community sports clubs in Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark to deliver sporting opportunities to 800 disabled young people.

The award-winning charity, which operates across the capital, works with clubs offering sports ranging from football and cycling to climbing and yoga, with an emphasis on disability-inclusive sessions.

It is expanding its reach in south London thanks to £110,000 funding over three years from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“Young people with a learning disability or a physical impairment often face severe levels of inequality, isolation and poor health as a result of being excluded from sporting opportunities.

“This funding will help equip sports clubs with the expertise, knowledge and confidence they need to offer inclusive sport, delivering positive benefits to hundreds of young south Londoners.”

Access Sport will use the funding to build ‘clusters’ of inclusive sports networks in the three boroughs, linking up those already catering for disabled young people to those who’d like to do so.

The charity says disabled young people and their families are often disheartened by the lack of accessible physical activity, and providing inclusive sport boosts their physical and mental wellbeing.

Hayley Barton, Access Sport Delivery Director, said:

“A lot of our young people have had really bad experiences trying to access sports clubs which are just not geared up for them, which makes it hard for their families to encourage them to give it another go.

“Often, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, they feel socially isolated, and they go to these clubs to make friends. The sport is really a means to an end to help them develop social relationships.

“Getting access to sport is a life-transforming experience in many cases. There’s a huge increase in wellbeing and it helps them build friendships and develop the social and life skills which many of us take for granted, but which they often don’t have.”

Any sports clubs in Greenwich, Lewisham or Southwark which would like to offer inclusive sport are asked to call Kate Page, Access Sport London Development Manager, by emailing katie.page@accesssport.co.uk or calling 020 7993 9883.

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study: ‘It’s magical that I can be free while I’m on the track’

Mia Martin, 13, has cerebral palsy, meaning she uses a wheelchair to get around. She is a member of East London RaceRunning, set up with the support of Access Sport and the only club in London offering opportunities to take part in the disabled-friendly sport, in which participants race on custom-built tricycles without pedals.

Mia said: “I’d never been able to get involved in many sports before. I’d done horse-riding, but nothing where I was able to move myself around independently.

“I really love the fact that I’m able to move around by myself while I’m RaceRunning. I spend the majority of my time trapped in my wheelchair, so it’s magical that I can be free while I’m on the track every week.”

Picture captions

- Mia Martin (right) joined a RaceRunning club set up with the support of Access Sport

- participants at a Safe Haven Basketball session in Westminster

- Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, has allocated £11 million to the London Community Response, set up to help charities deal with the impact of coronavirus, and has also given over £1.7 million in one-off grants to 202 organisations it already supports to help them offset lost income resulting from the pandemic.

The London Community Response Fund is administered by City Bridge Trust, the funding arm of Bridge House Estates. The City of London Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge House Estates and Members of its Court of Common Council form the City Bridge Trust Committee, responsible for taking grant and funding decisions for the charity.