The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has signed up three more organisations to its IncludeMe WM programme bringing the total to 75.
Street Games, Sported and Access Sport have signed up to IncludeMe, which encourages organisations to improve how they engage with disabled people and those with long-term conditions. The three organisations are about to start a new Sport England and WMCA-backed pilot designed to help the inclusive sport and physical activity sector recover from the pandemic.
The announcement follows research that reveals that thousands of disabled people across the UK say they have been forgotten during the pandemic. Conducted for the BBC, most of the 3,300 people who took part said their disability had worsened and many of them had experienced huge physical and mental decline since March 2020.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “The pandemic has affected people in the West Midlands in so many ways, highlighting and heightening long-standing inequalities.
“That’s why initiatives like our IncludeMe WM programme is designed to help improve the support provided for disabled people and those with long term health conditions, helping them become more active, promoting physical and mental health. Often crucial factors in helping people access job opportunities.”
“These three great new signings to IncludeMe WM will really help us create a fairer, greener and healthier West Midlands – for everyone. With sport and healthy living in the spotlight as we approach next week’s ‘one year to go’ milestone ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the timing couldn’t be better!”
The three, alongside the local Active Partnerships, will work with community based clubs across the West Midlands to encourage disabled people to be more active.
StreetGames uses sport to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people across the UK, helping to make young people and their communities healthier, safer and more successful.
Sported is the UK’s largest network of community groups supporting half a million young people to overcome barriers to reach their full potential. They will be working with Access Sport which is a charity created to improve children and young people’s health and wellbeing, working with deprived communities, mostly young disabled people.
The pilot due to start this summer will take place in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry. Local Active Partnerships Sport Birmingham, Active Black Country and Think Active in Coventry have been working with the WMCA to get the pilot up and running. Mike Chamberlain, chief executive of Sport Birmingham said: “This is a great opportunity for national partner organisations to collaborate with local lead partners and support local clubs who wish to become more inclusive and accessible, setting a standard and great example to many others who will hopefully benefit from the model in the future”.
The pilot project will give focused support to six community based clubs to help them support more disabled people, more quickly. This will involve training, guidance and planning support.
It will aim to enhance disability awareness, understanding of what works to get people more active and increase the support provided to community groups through upskilling of Sported and StreetGames staff and volunteers.
Include Me WM is a pioneering pledge to deliver more inclusive physical activity and was established to encourage disabled people and people with long term health conditions to be physically active. The IncludeMe WM Pledge shows that an organisation has made a commitment to improve and develop its offering to these groups.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe the WMCA portfolio lead for wellbeing and leader of Warwickshire Country Council said: “Disabled children, young people and their families have been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with existing inequalities heightened.
“The addition of three more organisations to IncludeMe WM and the introduction of the pilot project are signs that the region is beginning to recover from the wide-ranging negative effects of Covid.”
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