The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in partnership with British Blind Sport have received £1million in funding from Sport England for three years to develop participation in sport amongst people with sight loss.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic 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 under-representation 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 wellbeing. 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, added: “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 and 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 that 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 grassroots club level, improving awareness of sight loss, and taking steps to improve accessibility of sporting sector businesses.