Sport England funds development of participation in sport amongst people with sight loss

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in partnership with British Blind Sport have received £1m in funding from Sport England for three years to develop participation in sport amongst people with sight loss.

Despite Covid-19 having a devastating effect on the sporting calendar and landscape, Sport England has committed to funding the See Sport Differently project. The development of the project will have a positive impact for blind and partially sighted people through fair and equal participation in physical activity and the opportunity to experience sport in an inclusive way.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO Sport England said: "I am delighted that Sport England is part of this strategic partnership with RNIB and British Blind Sport. The past year has seen disabled people disproportionately affected by the pandemic and as a result their underrepresentation in sport and physical activity has got worse. See Sport Differently will help provide more access and opportunities and the programme will work to involve the wider sector and help improve training, so blind and partially sighted people are better able to enjoy all the benefits that being more active brings."

Matt Stringer, RNIB Chief Executive said: “We are very pleased with this significant investment from Sport England with funding from the National Lottery to help get more blind and partially sighted people participating in sport regularly. Working closely in partnership with British Blind Sport and using their vast expertise, we will be able to jointly deliver a sporting programme over the next three years.

“With the numerous Covid-19 lockdowns, it has shown us all the value of mental and physical well-being. The benefits of sport are essential to anybody leading a fulfilled, positive, and healthy life and plays a major part of an inclusive society. The project will also help break down society’s perceptions that sight loss is a barrier to participating in physical activity and experiencing sport.”

Alaina MacGregor, Chief Executive of British Blind Sport says, “The team at British Blind Sport are excited to be working with both RNIB and Sport England to deliver the See Sport Differently project. We see a tremendous opportunity to engage those affected by sight loss and break down barriers to sport. We hope to inspire and activate our community by sharing positive messages about the achievements and experiences of blind and partially sighted people in sport and physical activity."

The three organisations will work together to develop the See Sport Differently programme to deliver opportunities for blind and partially sighted people to access, participate in sport, with a mass participation event to take place in 2022 across multiple locations.

The programme will begin with a three-month research project to better understand the impact Covid-19 has had specifically on blind and partially sighted people’s ability to undertake physical activity. The findings will also help understand the impact of Covid-19 on the sporting workforce, and their ability and understanding to support people with sight loss.

The project will also create participation opportunities with national governing bodies, while creating a volunteering programme at local sports and grass roots-club level, improving awareness of sight loss, and taking steps to improve accessibility of sporting sector businesses.

Thanks to the players of the National Lottery, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.

Media enquiries to Gorki Duhra, PR Manager at RNIB on gorki.duhra@rnib.org.uk or call 07968 482812.

About Sport England
Sport England is a public body and invests up to £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport. It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active - like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

About RNIB
We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.
RNIB. See differently.
Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk

About British Blind Sport
Based in Leamington Spa, British Blind Sport is the national disability sport organisation that represents visually impaired people in sport across the UK. The charity helps blind and partially sighted people get active and play sport. Sport and recreational activities can enhance the lives of people with visual impairments, by improving their health and increasing their social interaction. We encourage adults and children to participate in activities at all levels, from grassroots to the Paralympic Games.