Cash bid to boost disabled sports

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 November 2012

Archant

MORE sports club for people with disabilities could be set up across the district.

North Somerset Council has applied to Sport England for a £35,000 grant to enable more people with disabilities to take part in sport.

The grant could also pay for disabled sports sessions in schools, such as wheelchair basketball.

Rebecca Stathers, the council’s sport and active lifestyles manager, said: “There’s a lack of sports clubs for people with disabilities in North Somerset.

“We’ve put together a funding bid, which we hope will enable us to improve the opportunities.”

Around 8,900 people in North Somerset claim disability living allowance - with the majority living in Weston.

In August, the authority surveyed 99 people with disabilities, ranging from physical and learning difficulties to mental health issues and visual impairment.

Surveys were also sent to organisations which support disabled people.

Nearly 70 per cent of respondents wanted to participate in more sport and listed the lack of suitable clubs as a barrier. And 74 per cent of the participants said they would like to see a mixture of inclusive and dedicated sporting opportunities.

Mrs Stathers said: “Sport is important to everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability and everyone should have the same opportunity to take part.

“There aren’t any wheelchair specific clubs in North Somerset, which we can try to develop if we get the funding. We would also like to work with clubs and support them to be more inclusive.

“Some people with disabilities don’t want to go to a specific club for disabled people, which is why it’s important to provide a mix of inclusive and dedicated clubs so people can choose.”

The council is working with Bristol-based South West Scorpions wheelchair basketball club to talk about running taster sessions in schools and the possibility of setting up satellite clubs in other towns.

The club, which was set up by Backwell charity Motivation, trains at Filton and has a number of North Somerset players.

Ben Humphrey, sports co-ordinator for Motivation, said: “We would love to have more satellite clubs that feed into the South West Scorpions hub.

“If the funding bid is successful we could go into schools and deliver wheelchair basketball sessions to raise awareness of the sport and get people thinking about what it’s like for people with a physical impairment.

“We could also run after school clubs.”

The council should find out if its bid has been successful next month.

Officers are also asking people to email then at go4life@n-somerset.gov.uk to let them know what clubs they would like set up.


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