Sport Participation Groups – How Our Discussions Can Make Sport More Welcoming For All

Sport Participation Group

The Voice of the Participant Project aims to find out how sport participants feel about the safeguarding cultures in their sports. In this post Anne Patterson, the project researcher, shares some insights from some recent activity.

The Voice of the Participant Project involves running short online or in-person participation group workshops for clubs or groups. At the moment, we are focusing on meeting groups that cater for older people or disabled adults.

It’s an opportunity for sport participants to talk openly about how it feels to take part in their sport. We invite them to explore what they enjoy, while also thinking about how effectively their club or group champions their health and wellbeing.

These informal discussions can help improve communication among participants. They may also give club leaders some insights into how they can make their club or group more welcoming for everyone.

Sometimes Sport Brings More Than Physical Health Benefits

Thanks to links with Northamptonshire and Shropshire Active Partnerships, we have spoken to participants who attend sessions to build strength, mobility, and balance so as to prevent falls. Mostly these participants had some age-related mobility issues. However, the classes were also open to people with acquired disabilities due to stroke or chronic illness.

It soon became clear that these sessions weren’t just helping to improve the participants’ physical wellbeing. Participants also treated them as social gatherings, meaning they potentially brought a wealth of benefits to their mental wellbeing, too.

Following some discussions, we tried to pinpoint what made these participants feel safe and welcome while taking part. We could then share these insights with the group leaders – anonymously, of course.

People were very frank when discussing what they liked and what they disliked about the group. This resulted in some great feedback for those delivering the sessions. In most cases, it affirmed that they are doing a really good job! But the process has also provided them with a few possible tweaks they could make to improve participants’ experiences.

Sport Helps People Live The Lives They Want To 

We have also recently worked with West Sussex Active Partnership. They work alongside the Grace Eyre organisation, which is dedicated to ‘Helping people with a learning disability and autistic people live the lives they want to’. As part of this they organise sport activities either onsite, or at local leisure facilities.

We engaged with a number of individuals playing sports organised by Grace Eyre. We asked them to share their views on taking part: What they enjoy, and what makes them feel safe and happy.

Again, we were able to feed this back to both Grace Eyre and the Active Partnership, so that they knew just how much they were doing right and whether there was any room for improvement.

In March 2024, we began to work with Wheels For All. This is a charity that promotes inclusive cycling programmes, along with help, support, and guidance, to give people the opportunity to cycle on a regular basis. We will provide an update on how this is going in due course.

Learn More About Our Sport Participation Groups