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  • Supporting people to contribute and do things they enjoy

Get Yourself Active Helping disabled people lead change in health and sport

Organisation (name and purpose?)

Get Yourself Active is a programme led by Disability Rights UK and funded by Sport England. 

The purpose of the programme is to increase the number of opportunities for people with lived experience of disability, mental health issues and long-term health conditions, to get active. This includes a focus on increasing the number of disabled people with personal budgets regularly participating in physical activity or sport. 

The programme evolved into three strands of engagement work that were delivered across a total of 12 sites. Each strand trialled a different approach to increasing the number of accessible opportunities for disabled people to get active. 

1. Local coordinators
2. Supporting social workers
3. Co-production

What is the problem this innovation solves?

9.4 million disabled people live in England but 42% do less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week. This level of inactivity is far higher than non-disabled people. Given the wealth of benefits that physical activity is known to provide for disabled adults, there is a clear need to better understand what stops them from taking part in physical activity. However, relatively little is known about how to overcome these barriers to participation. 

However, the inactivity is just the surface goal which can be used as a hook to help disabled people achieve various outcomes. These outcomes can be to improve their strength, balance and fitness, to be more independent and confident, to see their friends and meet new people, to be part of the community, to be part of a team, to improve their mental health, or to lose weight. 

Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that by taking part in physical activity it could reduce the impact on some statutory services. 


The programme evolved into three strands of engagement work that were delivered across a total of 12 sites. Each strand trialled a different approach to increasing the number of accessible opportunitites for disabled people to get active. 

Local coordinators: funded a Disabled Persons User-led Organisation based coordinator in CCIL and LCiL to support local physical activity providers to devvelop opportunities that works for disabled people, and directly supported disabled people to access them. 

Supporting social workers: provided social workers with training and guidelines to increase their knowledge of how best to have conversations with disabled people about the benefits of physical activity and therefore increase the likelihood of people seeing it as a means to meet their personal outcomes. 

Co-production: GYA coordinators in CCIL and LCiL supported local Disabled Persons User-led Organisation and sports providers to engage in genuine co-production initiatives to develop or improve local physical activity offers. 

Evidence base

Get Yourself Active has been collecting evidence since the start of the programme, having co-produced our personal-budget holder and non-personal budget holder surveys with disabled people. 

Traverse was commissioned as an independent evaluation partner by Disability Rights UK. Traverse's initial remit was to support an internal evaluation of the programme. This remit was later expanded in the second year of the programme onwards to include an independent, formative evaluation. 

The formative evaluation element aimed to capture learning about 'what worked' and 'why' when it came to increasing the number of physical activity opportunities for disabled people. This helped to inform the ongoing development of Get Yourself Active. 

Expected impact

In local coordinator areas the proportion of respondents who undertook physical activity at least once a week increased from 28% at the start to 68% after six months. There was some indication that this helped to improve people’s mental wellbeing and contributed to reduced use of some statutory services.

135 social workers directly engaged in GYA's workshops. Over half felt that the training and guidelines had made a positive difference to their practice. This included increased awareness about the importance of physical activity and the range of opportunities for disabled people. In some cases, this contributed to a culture shift towards an increased focus on physical activity among social work teams. 

The impacts of the co-production initiatives between disabled people and sports providers are emergent since genuine co-production takes time. Co-production is an opportunity for disabled people, physical activity providers and Disabled-Person's User-led Organisation is to work together to improve provision. 

Stage/spread (where it is/how much is there?)

We are just starting the fifth year of the Get Yourself Active programme. For the first eighteen months of the programme we had local coordinators situated in Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) and Leicestershire Centre for integrated Living (LCiL). 

The following eighteen months we continued our work with CCIL and LCiL but tested a different coordinator model (working remotely) in Peterborough, Preston, Sheffield and Doncaster. 

We then expanded to work in Rutland, Coventry, Derby, Essex, Nottingham, West Sussex and Wigan to test out the Social Worker Guidelines and co-production.  

What would councils/health organisations/local areas need to do or have in place to enable it to develop?

In order for the Get Yourself Active programme to develop the following elements need to be in place.

Local coordinator: locating the coordinator post within the local DPULOs had increased the sustainability of GYA, but acknowledged that other DPULOs could struggle to create the space for such a role within a climate where organisations are directing funding towards essentially services. 

Supporting social workers: sustainability relies on local authorities embedding opportunities to revisit the guidelines in their working practices, integrating them with formal referral methods and mitigating staff turnover through a 'train-the-trainer' model. 

Co-production: Local Authorities, health organisations and the sport sector need to develop co-produced solutions to physical inactivity with disabled people by working with local DPULOs who should lead on co-production approaches. An advisory group should be created and a set of  principles should be agreed upon to start with. 

What would kill it?

Local coordinator: if Disabled Persons User-led Organisation were unable to fund the post, or if the post was not available to be  situated within a DPULO. They could strugge to create the space for such a role within a climate where many organisations are directing funding towards essential services. 

Supporting social workers: the success of this strand was subject to external factors, including limited capacity among social workers to engage in the training or put their knowledge into practice, staff turnover, and a reluctance aong clients to discuss activity through fear that they may lose access to benefits or negative impressions from previous experiences. 

Co-production: if disabled people's views were not listened to or if co-production was done badly this could have a worst impact than if disabled people were not involved at all. 

Where to go for more information

Go to http://www.getyourselfactive.org/ for resources and regular updates. 

Sign up to Get Yourself Active's monthly e-newsletter: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/civicrm/profile/create?gid=24&reset=1. 

Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GetYrselfActive. 

To discover the full impact of the three strands of Get Yourself Active, read our full evaluation report in full click here: http://www.getyourselfactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/GYA-final-report_FINAL_29.03.19.pdf 

Read the executive summary here: http://www.getyourselfactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/GYA-final-exec-summary_FINAL_29.03.19.pdf