Disability Sport Info

London Sport

November 03, 2023 Christopher Brown Season 5 Episode 1
London Sport
Disability Sport Info
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Disability Sport Info
London Sport
Nov 03, 2023 Season 5 Episode 1
Christopher Brown

In this episode, I'm joined by Josef Baines,  Insight Manager at London Sport, to discuss the physical activity and sport participation of disabled Londoners.  

We consider the current sport and physical activity of disabled Londoners, including projects London Sport are supporting. We discuss the impact and influence of the cost of living crisis on disabled Londoners' sport and physical activity participation. We move onto policy where we consider London Sport's Manifesto and the latest government policy for sport, Get Active (2023). The legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is considered, followed by Josef explaining the lessons he's learned from working in the disability sport and physical activity sector. 

Thanks for listening to the Disability Sport Info show!

Please email disabilitysportinfo@gmail.com to share your feedback. I'd love to hear from you.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, I'm joined by Josef Baines,  Insight Manager at London Sport, to discuss the physical activity and sport participation of disabled Londoners.  

We consider the current sport and physical activity of disabled Londoners, including projects London Sport are supporting. We discuss the impact and influence of the cost of living crisis on disabled Londoners' sport and physical activity participation. We move onto policy where we consider London Sport's Manifesto and the latest government policy for sport, Get Active (2023). The legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is considered, followed by Josef explaining the lessons he's learned from working in the disability sport and physical activity sector. 

Thanks for listening to the Disability Sport Info show!

Please email disabilitysportinfo@gmail.com to share your feedback. I'd love to hear from you.

Transcript of Disability Sport Info episode, ‘London Sport’



Speaker: Dr Christopher Brown (Presenter – University of Hertfordshire, UK) 

Speaker: Josef Baines (Participant – Insight Manager, London Sport, UK)


[00:00:29] Dr Christopher Brown: Hello, listener. Welcome to another episode of the Disability Sport Info Show. We're back after a break and ready to explore more disability sport topics. I hope you've all been well since our last episode. 

Today, we are joined by Josef Baines of London Sport. So for listeners who are unaware of London Sport, London Sport is an Active Partnership focused on the London area. An Active Partnership is a strategic organisation that works to foster and enable sport participation and physical activity through collaboration with local partners, working in sport and in the physical activity space.

Disability sport is one focus area of their overall work. Josef is Insight Manager at London Sport and is very much focused on understanding the data and evidence behind the sport participation and physical activity of Londoners. Josef is Deaf and we are joined by Paul, who will be signing my comments to Josef and will be the voice you hear explaining Josef's thoughts.

As ever, we'll have a transcription of the episode available when the episode lands, so be sure to check that out if you're not able to listen to the conversation or want to supplement your listening. 

So Josef, welcome to the show. It's great to have you on and for you to share your expertise and experience with our listeners.

So I think to start off, please can you provide a brief background as to your role at London Sport? 

[00:01:43] Josef Baines: Thank you so much for inviting me onto this podcast. It's great. Very excited to talk to you and share my knowledge and my background. So you've mentioned that my responsibility is Insight Manager here at London Sport, and at the moment I'm focusing on key areas of work such as managing the Insight Portal, where we have lots of data, lots of graphs, reports for the public to have a look at and to access and use. We create story-led reports here at London Sport, and that influences the sports sector, and it really drives change, so I work on those. I support the internal staff with their data collection and support them to make their informed decisions with their work and with their partners that they work with.

My average day at work really is lots of research, lots of report writing, data collection, digesting that data to really understand what that means, and how we can use that data to make it easier for people to understand what that data means. But also creating something that will have influence and power from the data that we send out, for example, poll s, questionnaires, and then we can try to influence policymakers through our reports and our stories that are involved as well.

I get involved in planning and creating research briefs, and I work in collaboration with a lot of colleagues. Internally and externally within the sports sector as well to pull together data that we can roll out. 

[00:03:32] Dr Christopher Brown: Obviously, as an Active Partnership, you're quite unique because London obviously is the biggest area that we have in the country. So I don't know, does that make a difference to your work in terms of the amount of data you can collect, but also the variability of the population that you have to account for?

Any thoughts about that?

[00:03:53] Josef Baines: Yes. I mean, London, of course, is a really complex area. Each borough in London is very different, different demographics, different groups linked to wealth, really varied people within each borough. So our approach is to really think in a bespoke way and think about the potential challenges or issues that could be overcome, linked to a particular area.

So that's really about good collaborative efforts with partners to try to move forward any improvements or activity levels within the population. Really, it's a very complex area. But that's what makes the job really exciting. You know, that's why I love coming to work. Because there's that mental challenge of an opportunity to overcome, a barrier to kind of get out of the way for people.

And that's what London's about. 

[00:04:55] Dr Christopher Brown: Excellent. Yeah. And also in terms of the data that you get, just curious if there's a split you can talk about in terms of the primary data that you collect, so active projects that you guys are initiating, getting data firsthand, versus looking at data from Sport England or the government.

Are you able to talk about that at all?

[00:05:14] Josef Baines: Well, for example, we try to get as much, or as many opportunities, to collect primary data as possible through our national representative poll. Of course, that can be a challenge because that involves funding and also partnerships with organisations who can support us with that. Now, comparing that to secondary data that's widely available for people to use. So, for example, the government census or the ONS, or the mayor of London's data. I mean, that's fantastic to have all of that data. And we do use that quite a lot as part of our ongoing work, but it feels like you're always one step behind with that kind of data. That can be a challenge. You're always looking back at the past.

We are really keen to have cutting edge and fresh, innovative data that we will hope to be able to focus on. So that's why we like to have as much primary data as possible. It's about getting the balance. The national data is really important, and it can cover a lot of demographic groups more than we can do sometimes, and it's analysing and pulling together the stories from that to make an impact.

Sport England's survey, for example, is really useful part of our work as well, and we check that and make sure that London is in comparison with the national data as well. 

[00:06:54] Dr Christopher Brown: Really interesting. And just briefly whilst we're on this topic, in terms of the involvement of disabled people themselves, how much collaboration do you have, or how much co-working do you have with disabled people when generating data and insight, specifically about disabled Londoners?

[00:07:11] Josef Baines: Well, that is a big challenge that we do face. From my experience, and my previous role as Disability Development Officer, funding for project delivery is quite scarce. There's not a lot of that. Which means that the amount of data available out there really isn't a lot. So it can be really hard to work out how we can meet the needs of disabled people.

So what we do is we collaborate as much as possible with different partners and organisations who have an interest in focusing on working with disabled people. But the challenge to that is that they also don't have the resources or funding to collect that data as well.

You do have to be very creative. You have to think differently. We have to think about the resources that we've got in place already. My previous role, most of my time was spent working with a real broad range of organisations. So, for example, local authorities, NGBs, community sports clubs, to really work with them to develop an action plan that they would be able to capacity build their resources and their funding.

And everyone worked in a very collaborative way and it was a very effective way of collecting data and supporting those organisations as well to get more people active. 

[00:08:43] Dr Christopher Brown: Very interesting. And yeah, I can imagine it's quite a challenge and it was quite yeah, interesting what you were saying about, you know, you're trying to get involvement or trying to get data, but then some of the other partners you're working with don't have the data themselves. And then it's trying to find that balance and seeing who has an 'in' or insight that you can utilise to build a foundation, a knowledge base to help your work. 

So I think it's a nice segue to move on to our next focus, which is looking at the current landscape of physical activity and sport participation for disabled people in London.

So quite a broad question. How would you assess the current situation, when we're looking at sport and physical activity for disabled people in London? With the caveat that London obviously is a very diverse place and there's lots of different boroughs and challenges within that. 

[00:09:27] Josef Baines: So, for me, if you're thinking about London as an area, unfortunately, we don't have strong enough data to be able to identify disabled people's activity levels in individual boroughs. And that's because of the very small sample size in Sport England's Active Lives survey. Now, when we take a step back and we look at London as a whole, and we compare that with the national picture, London disabled people are more active than they are outside of London.

When we compare that with disabled people's activity levels and non-disabled people's activity levels, disabled people are still not as active as non-disabled people. But the activity levels of disabled people have now gone back to pre-pandemic levels. Which is actually fantastic news for us. And it will be very interesting to see what the data is like in May. And that's because Sport England will release their data; they release it every May. So hopefully we will see a continued trend upwards of activity levels for disabled people. Disabled people have also mentioned in the Active Lives survey that they feel that they have more opportunities to become physically active compared to the national data as a whole. Which again is good news for us, and that's a good area for us to focus on. 

[00:11:14] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, interesting, because I was really struck by how you were saying that, when compared to the rest of the nation, London, in terms of disability, performs better in terms of participation rates. And I was gonna ask you why that was. So I think one of the reasons you've just mentioned there is about opportunity. You know, it's a capital city. There's a lot more opportunities and you can perhaps tailor the opportunities, the chances to be active, to suit different needs. And we know that's really important. Is there anything else that you think is really important as to why London is more of an outlier compared to the rest of the nation, in terms of disabled people being more active?

[00:11:49] Josef Baines: Well, quite a lot of possible reasons. One of those, for example, could be that there are quite a lot of interpreters that live in London. So, there are quite a lot of Deaf people that live in London. So that means that there's an opportunity for communication, which helps to be involved in activity. Also, the proximity of sports organisations within one place in London could make collaboration a lot easier and have closer relationships with a number of councils or clubs or facilities available to people. So that means that there's more possibility. They don't have to travel as far. So there's not a barrier to transportation, for example. That means that people can travel to where they want to go to, to do their activity. 

There are still barriers for people in society, of course, but it could help disabled people to get involved in activity more than would be outside of London. There could be more facilities that are more accessible, potentially, and more disabled people are keen to go to those facilities. There could be more sports clubs who are more confident in working with disabled people. So there's lots of possible reasons why that could be the case. Maybe the wealth of disabled people in London could be a factor. They may be able to afford more sports and physical activity, but there are still barriers there, of course, because a lot of people can't afford because of the rise in cost of living, but that could be linked to economic the wealth as well, as resources being available. But there's a very broad range of reasons that could be happening out there. 

[00:13:33] Dr Christopher Brown: Yes, of course. I mean, it's an impossible question to answer fully, definitely.

And obviously, you know, we're looking at a big generalisation as a term, disability, you know, what does it even mean? Yeah, you've touched upon deafness as one example, but obviously there's many different examples. And in terms of how it manifests itself, obviously there's different examples there too. So yeah, we are obviously dealing with broad generalisations here. And, as you say, we don't unfortunately have the borough specific knowledge to be able to understand how that varies across London.

Okay, it's really interesting and I suppose that's a bit more work to do, generally, is to understand those reasons because we don't have that data.

[00:14:11] Josef Baines: Absolutely. I mean, it is so much like I said before, data is always quite a step behind, so that means that we sometimes have to wait for results to be launched or released to be able to make the changes. So we're relying on old data, but what we do then might not match the data that's currently required.

So, you know, we're constantly maintaining our activity levels to reduce those barriers to people. And we're trying to rely on, for example, NHS data, or trying to get disability data, or the census 2021 data will be something we look at closely. Now, that's two years ago, of course, and things will have changed for people already.

So, it's a real challenge in trying to make sure that we are driving forward the social agenda linked to disabled people and their activity level. 

[00:15:10] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, no, really good points. And in terms of the current projects that London Sport have that specifically focus on disability, are you able to talk about that?

So actually, just kind of broadening the question now, are there projects that specifically focus on disability and those that are mainstream, as in non-disabled and disabled people can participate together?

[00:15:30] Josef Baines: Okay, so we have a project that's trying to get more disabled people active in London. One of London Sport's priorities includes an audience of disabled people, or people with long term health conditions.

 And we have a fund called the Together Fund. And this fund is where we were able to support a number of organisations in London that are focusing on disabled people to become active. One example of that is an organisation called Caxton Youth. And they are a club, and they're a community club that focus on supporting young people with mental and physical disabilities.

And it's important that we support organisations like them to really provide inclusive spaces for that community, because they're facing great challenges linked to inequalities. And really encouraging young people to feel confident, to feel safe, to feel engaged, and to be involved in sport. An example of the project that we focused on to support people is that one.

[00:16:47] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, I'm sure there are wider projects that London Sport have that disabled people obviously can tap into. But that was a really interesting example that's specifically supporting disabled people. 

[00:16:57] Josef Baines: Yeah, exactly. And one of our aims is to try to integrate disabled people into our other projects as well.

But, also, one does have to be mindful that not all disabled people can get involved in mainstream projects. So we have to make sure that the project that we are working with, with a partner, meets the needs of the disabled people who would like to get involved. And also considering their various challenges to involvement, which is linked to their disability or their condition. We don't want to deliver something that's a one size fits all model, and that will exclude some people. So we really do have to make sure that our approach is flexible, and that it does meet most people's needs, to be able to get them to become active. 

[00:17:48] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, I think that's a really important point that you said about the choice. You know, some people will want to participate in a mainstream setting, that's perfectly fine. Some people will not. They wanna do maybe a more specific focus. And that's perhaps part of the advantage that London has, that there can be that wider offering, perhaps, then maybe some other places. So, yeah, I think that's a really important point that you've hit upon there.

[00:18:10] Josef Baines: Yeah, absolutely, really. Also, for us, it's very challenging because we've just come out of a pandemic. We know that. We are recovering from that pandemic. And that means that disabled people's activity levels are going up. So, that is through the efforts of working with partners, which is great. So our biggest challenge now is the cost of living crisis that could then affect disabled people's activity levels further.

Now, the ability to be able to pay for being involved in a sports club or going to a gym, for example, could affect people. So it's really important to make sure that our projects also meet the needs of disabled people linked to economics and the current situation that we're all involved in. 

Our national representative poll, 48 percent of disabled people in London compared to 29 percent of disabled people in England as a whole, or nationally, are negatively impacted by the cost of living. So that's a larger group. So that's a concerning area for us. And we want to make sure that the activity levels for disabled people in London are maintained, despite that cost of living crisis that we're in. 

[00:19:42] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, no, that's a really nice segue to the next point I want to talk about, which was cost of living.

And, just for international listeners, the cost of living is referring to the g lobal impact of things like the Ukraine-Russia war, where oil prices and energy costs increased. And then inflation rose in a number of countries, the UK probably more negatively affected than some of their other continental partners.

And then obviously we had Liz Truss's short premiership, where there was a little bit of a hit to the economy, to say the least. And that had an impact on mortgage rates, et cetera. And inflation has remained stubbornly high. I think it's currently at about 6%, I don't know for sure, but it's still very high.

It's interesting that you said, so essentially half of disabled people from your poll are negatively impacted by the cost of living. That's a huge issue and huge barrier to overcome. So, what measures are being put in place to try and counteract that?

[00:20:40] Josef Baines: We can't reverse it. But what we can do is help to reduce the impact of that. We are trying to encourage disabled people and partners to come up with some really innovative approaches to activity participation. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money. You can do activities for free.

So for example, people can walk more, maybe cycle more, or use other wheeled devices. It depends on the person and their condition, and what exercise they can do. They can go to an outdoor park, which has outdoor gyms. They have a lot of equipment in these kinds of outdoor parks. You don't have to pay a lot for membership for a gym and so on.

You can go on a parkrun. You could work with an organisation to make something accessible for disabled people. You know, most areas in London are flat, so people can move around fairly effectively. And there are very many different avenues to maintain activity levels and participation in exercise.

You can watch a YouTube video at home or maybe do some exercise, for example, with Joe Wicks or some other people who offer exercise classes online for free. So there's lots of ways that people can be involved. 

For me, it's a really interesting perspective because I remember being part of a discussion with people from Sweden, and they were going through, I think it was, yes, it was the pandemic, and there was quite a lot of gyms that were closed, of course, people couldn't go out of the house to do their exercise, so there was quite a lot of simple solutions. Again, depends on the person's condition. But you can do sit ups, you could do running on the spot, you could do walking. You know, there's lots of things that you can do at home if a person is a wheelchair user, they can still wheel around and get a little bit of exercise, but it's about that shift in thinking.

Do you have to pay to be involved in exercise at the gym, for example, when you could carry on exercising in a different way? So it's about being creative, but it's important that people have involvement in sports clubs as well and activities, because you've got that connection with people. You've got that, you know, link to people. You don't want isolation, which can happen when people are on their own, but it's very much a balance between being active, but not being impacted by the cost of that activity. So it's a real fine balance. 

[00:23:36] Dr Christopher Brown: When you were talking about the, you know, the need to be creative and how you could use like online provision. So YouTube, for example, I was thinking, okay, that's really good. And that's definitely another way of inspiring people to be active.

I was thinking, what about those who maybe don't have that habit of being active or participating in sport? And then you mentioned the social element. And again, I think that's really important, that balance. If some people will need or want that social element to help them to be active, and some will be fairly okay just doing it on their own.

So I think, yeah, like you say, getting that balance, again, it comes down to choice and offering that opportunity for people, is really important. 

[00:24:12] Josef Baines: Absolutely. It really is. Another important thing is for sports organisations or people who deliver activity programmes, that could be free or paid for, is something called STEP. And that means that when you work out an activity, of course the first thing you need to do is consult with the disabled people themselves to say what are your needs, what are the challenges that you're facing, what are the barriers to being active, and then start going through the STEP process.

S is for space, so think about the space that's needed and how people can be involved in that space. T, for type, the type of activity, what is it? So, you know, what do the people need to do when they're involved? How do they need to move around? Do they need to hold something? 

Then you've got E, and that's the equipment. So what type of equipment can people use when they're involved in activity? Is there a need for active equipment or is there not? How can that be adapted? 

The last one is P, and that's for people. So, how many people need to be involved? Do you need 20 people in an activity in a small space, for example? That could be a challenge for people to move around. Or do you need five people in a ten metre squared space, you know, so people have got that space to move around. So it's easy to create solutions based on that thought process and adapt activities to the people that you're working with to meet their needs. 

[00:25:55] Dr Christopher Brown: That's something we actually mentioned on another episode of the Disability Sport Info podcast, where I spoke to Keon Richardson, and we were talking about grassroots coaching and he mentioned the STEP model too.

So it's nice to have that symmetry and also, you know, confirmation of how that approach can help. It wasn't planned, but it was nice to have that the link that you made there. And of course, listeners can listen to that episode if they want to. 

So you're talking about providers being creative and, you know, that could be how they use their current space or how they provide opportunities. And so I'm going to skip forward a few questions if that's okay, Josef, because I think it leads nicely onto the London manifesto that London Sport had, the London Sport Manifesto that was released last week.

And basically this manifesto is asking for a healthier and more active London. And again, for international listeners, we are due to have a General Election in the next year or so. Probably going to be in the autumn, possibly in the winter, who knows. So this is a manifesto that London Sport want the parties, that are going to be contesting the General Election, to adopt.

And, essentially, there are five headline ambitions. One is activating new developments, making better use of spaces, future proofing youth sport and physical activity, promoting walking and wheeling to school, and creating environments that ensure women's safety. So I was wondering, Josef, if you're able to talk about The London Sport Manifesto and how much the cost of living crisis has influenced the creation of the manifesto?

Because looking at some of the points here, making better use of London spaces, you referred to that just a minute ago. Promoting walking and wheeling to school, that again is something that you've referenced. So yeah, is there a connection between the cost of living crisis, and the need to be creative, and the manifesto that was launched last week?

Quite a long question. Hopefully you can remember most of my question parts. But yeah, hopefully be able to provide some comment there.

[00:27:46] Josef Baines: Okay, I'll try to answer that long question! The reasoning behind our manifesto is really to look and deal with the challenges of inactive people linked to what we've said earlier about the cost of living crisis. Now, all of Londoners are affected, including disabled people. For example, accessibility. Recognising the need of disabled people is key. And that's a core part of this manifesto. We've included specific policy asks as well. 

Really, it's about embedding accessible activities in the design of new developments, and also to make sure that children with special educational needs, for example, and disabled people, are probably supported to be able to walk to school or wheel to school, you know, by wheel we mean various pieces of equipment to go to school. I'm trying to make sure that people have an idea of what wheeling means, and that's not necessarily only using a wheelchair. It could be using a bicycle, a scooter, or any other kind of wheeled device. It doesn't have to be a wheelchair. But getting them to be able to go to school on that piece of equipment, for example. And it's pulling together information supported by conversations that we've had within the Activity Alliance and Disabled Sports Coaching, as well. So that's where we're coming from in that respect. 

[00:29:33] Dr Christopher Brown: And, and also recently again, you know, in the last month or so, we've had a new government policy document that's been released. So a bit overdue. So the previous one was in 2015. It was called Sporting Future and it had five outcomes, individual development, physical and mental wellbeing , building community, and economic development, off the top of my head.

Hopefully I haven't forgotten any. And, essentially, this strategy from my initial reading and discussion with colleagues, it seems to be a continuation of the existing strategy, essentially, with some quite ambitious targets. So I was just wondering if you're able to provide any thoughts about the new strategy and how it might influence disabled people's participation.

[00:30:18] Josef Baines: I'm really impressed with your elephant memory of those details of the 2015 strategy. You know, big congratulations to you. 

So to respond to your question, we welcome the government's new strategy, absolutely, and that will improve activity levels across the whole of the UK, and also disabled people's activity levels as well. Now, by 2030, the government is looking to help 700, 000 people, disabled people, to become more active. And it's great to see that. It's great to see that target set, but that's on paper. If the activity strategy itself doesn't set out any funding or planning to be able to achieve that target, where does it go? We really do need to see some real investment, but also planning to make sure that that happens. That target is reached to increase activity levels for disabled people. 

[00:31:40] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, ambition is great and important, but it's the detail, isn't it? It's the flesh on the bones that we need. I think it's kind of wait and see, basically, to see what the next steps might be in terms of that. 

[00:31:51] Josef Baines: Exactly. 

[00:31:52] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah. And also, it's interesting timing, isn't it? I mean, like I said earlier, we've got a General Election in the next year or so. 

Again, for listeners who aren't aware, Sport England, which is the at arm's length governing body or governing organisation that is responsible for grassroots sport. They released a 10 year strategy, Uniting the Movement, in 2021. So I don't know if there's any chance for synergy or they're kind of working at different approaches or different viewpoints. Yeah, what's your thoughts there? Because that was released in 2021 for 10 years, and now we've got this new strategy for 2023.

Is there harmony? Is there conflict? What's your thoughts there? 

[00:32:31] Josef Baines: Sport England's strategy has quite a lot of key elements that we do need to work towards. I think also the benefit of the strategy is the flexibility of it. I would be expecting Sport England to have some mini strategies linked to the main strategy. But also linked to the government's new strategy.

So, kind of more a way of considering it being flexible to achieve it, bearing in mind the political and sport landscape at the time. So I would be expecting that to be a development that would be coming out. You know, what changes can be made linked to the new government strategy. Which we've mentioned a lot about, you know. All sports need to adapt, really, to be able to deal with, you know, the changing climate, politically and socially.

[00:33:32] Dr Christopher Brown: Now, I could talk to you for a very long time but you've been very generous with your time so far, so I'll only ask a few more questions if that's okay. So I just wanted to go onto a slightly different topic. So as we know, London 2012 is when we had the Olympic and Paralympic games. What's that, 11 years ago now? And, relatively recently, London Sport did a report about the London 2012 legacy, in terms of the impact of the Games on sport participation and among other things. So what's your thoughts in terms of the impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for disabled people's sport and physical activity?

[00:34:04] Josef Baines: Well, that was a really wonderful time. I enjoyed London 2012 Games immensely. I was part of the pre-Games development work for LOCOG, and it was an amazing experience to be involved in that. Of course, to answer your question, post -Games impact is important. We sent out a national representative poll asking people, last year this was, as part of the 10 year anniversary of the Games, really to ask what changes have been made over the last 10 years in London and nationally. According to our national representative poll last year, the legacy of the London 2012 Games was that 75 percent of Londoners agreed that the games were a positive impact, and there was a change in society's views of disabled people. Also, 62 percent of the population, nationally, agreed that the society's view of disabled people had changed in a positive way. Now, the public also commented that the experience of watching disabled athletes, who were competing in the 2012 Games, actually changed and improved their understanding of what disabled people can do and can achieve.

So that really is such a positive impact and a legacy of the Games. Now, linked to the activity participation of grassroots level, the picture is slightly different.

[00:35:57] Dr Christopher Brown: Okay. So we might have some tangible evidence and some intangible evidence, to an extent, you know. Maybe, we're setting the foundation, the groundwork maybe for some longer term changes. So kind of focusing on the attitudes and the perceptions and the visibility, also, I think, of disability within society. Which is really important and is great. But then try and translate that to physical activity and sport participation: there's so many other factors that we've mentioned already today that can play a part. That's really important, that work, but more is needed. You can't just rely on a big Games to trigger activity. Do you think that's a fair thing to say?

[00:36:35] Josef Baines: Yes, exactly that. So we do need, really, to make the effort from a grassroots level up. I mean, of course, the power of media is very important. We do need to raise the profile of disabled people in sport and get that out to as wide an audience as possible. But we need people to connect the dots between grassroots sports and elite level sport. 

And, of course, still the perception of disabled athletes is kind of being superhuman and actually, you know, we could think about how disabled people are viewed when people say, "Oh, you're disabled, you could be involved in the Paralympics. That's amazing. You know, you've got the ability to do that". Well, that kind of creates the wrong message. We need to actually have a bit more of a balance. We need to encourage more grassroots organisations to become more aware of disabled people and their abilities, and their interest in being involved in activities, and progress that through to elite level sport. 

[00:37:46] Dr Christopher Brown: Again, I'd easily be able to talk to you about this in more depth. This is my area of interest, but unfortunately, we are tight for time. So I will just ask one more question, if that's okay, Josef, because, again, you've been very generous with your time.

So I think, finally, what are the main lessons that you have learned working in the sector that can be taken forward to improve disabled people's physical activity and sport participation?

[00:38:06] Josef Baines: I've been around this sector for about 15/16 years, and to sum up five key things, again, I could go on all day, but I do need to summarise. I've got five big, key things that I can start with. First of all is sports organisations in London, and nationally, I guess, have still got so much work to do to really improve their attention, their resources, and their services to disabled people.

Secondly, disabled people do face barriers to activity participation still. The evidence at grassroot level is there, and that's possibly because of the small amount of funding available. 

Third, we need organisations to be disability aware. That still needs to happen. We still do need to shift attitudes of people working with disabled people.

Four, is really we need to make sure that all members of staff in organisations are responsible for disability work, not just one person doing disability work. 

And lastly, avoiding going for the easy wins when delivering projects. That will be so easy, but it really, there needs to be a concerted effort at the beginning and overcome any challenges that might be faced and that's where the real learning is, I feel. 

[00:39:41] Dr Christopher Brown: Again, many interesting points. I agree with many of them, if not all of them. One that particularly struck me, was I think the need to have that inclusive culture embedded throughout the organisation, you know. You don't want it just to be an officer who is focused on it and then, if they leave, the work goes with them. 

[00:39:57] Josef Baines: You've drained all of the resources when that person leaves. It's about reminding organisations that they need to spread out that workload and that responsibility. And make sure that everybody is informed, aware and knowledgeable of the work involved with working with disabled people. And encourage organisations to embed that in staff performance plans, their monthly appraisals.

Make sure that the awareness of working with a variety of people and audiences is key and that includes disabled people. It's like you say, one person leaves, everything goes with that person and the organisation themselves are then facing a situation that they don't know what to do. And they panic and then they struggle to be able to meet the needs of people.

I know that you want to finish the podcast soon, but I think it's important to say that all organisations have an accessibility budget. That's where they can think about responding to disabled people's needs and meeting those needs of activities before they're asked. You know, because if they're asked afterwards, then they struggle to find the support or the budget or the resources that they need, and they panic.

If you have an accessibility budget from the start, when somebody comes along with an access need, you can organise that smoothly. And then that's a very positive experience for that person who's looking for that reasonable adjustment. And that's gonna encourage them to be more involved in activity in the future.

[00:41:33] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah. And also if that culture is embedded throughout the organisation, that would help with the easy wins that you've talked about, because it would hopefully encourage more active design and thinking of projects and so how we could incorporate different audiences , disabled people being one of them. And yeah, it's the starting point and the foundation. That would then help. And then these organisations would be aware of the accessibility budget and the need to provide reasonable adjustment, et cetera. But that's obviously a long term piece of work, isn't it? Changing the culture of an organisation. 

[00:42:04] Josef Baines: Yeah, absolutely. Exactly. And it's linked to funding applications and building that accessibility budget into it. And then actually, if you don't use so much of it, you build up a bigger pot of money. Rather than kind of one point in time, you might actually build some good funding to be able to meet the needs of disabled people. You know, it's about networking, it's about going to conferences, it's about meeting people.

You need to have that access as well. It's not only kind of sport that you need to consider, it's the bigger picture, it's the holistic view. 

[00:42:41] Dr Christopher Brown: No, definitely. Well, Josef, as I said, you've been very kind with your time. It's been fascinating to have a chat with you. And also thank you ever so much, Paul, for doing the interpretation. Really appreciate that too. 

I think we'll have to leave it there just because yeah, we could go on forever and for a very long time, but we've both got other things we have to do, but it's been, I think, a really fascinating discussion. I think listeners will learn a lot from it and it's great getting an organisational perspective as well. You know, actually getting the on the ground perspective rather than just academic knowledge.

So thank you ever so much for your time.

[00:43:11] Josef Baines: Oh, well, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity, Chris, to be part of this. It's been really interesting and it's been fantastic having this discussion with you and talking about this important subject. So I hope that all of your listeners do enjoy it as well. And thank you very much for inviting me as I say.

[00:43:32] Dr Christopher Brown: No, you're welcome. And I look forward to catching up with you soon. Thank you ever so much. 

[00:43:35] Josef Baines: Thank you. Take care. Bye. Bye. 

*** Discussion ends ***

[00:43:37] Dr Christopher Brown: That's it. That's all we have time for. Thanks for listening to another episode of the Disability Sport Info Show. Stay tuned for another episode. Until then, goodbye.


Josef's role at London Sport
Physical activity and sport participation of disabled Londoners
London Sport projects
Cost of living
London Sport Manifesto
New government policy, Get Active (2023)
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games legacy
Lessons learned working in the sector
End of discussion
Conclusion to the podcast