02:00PM, Thursday 16 September 2021
A former SportsAble trustee has provided an update on how disability sport is accessed in the area after the charity closed its doors earlier this year.
The group was forced to cease operations in March due to a lack of funding and the impact of COVID-19, leaving a hole in the town’s disability sport offer.
At a Disability and Inclusion Forum on Monday, Chris Humphris outlined how many of the sports provided by SportsAble had been moved to other facilities, mainly the Braywick Leisure Centre (BLC).
He added that himself and former president John Jenkins ‘took it upon ourselves’ to contact Leisure Focus, which runs the centre, to see if there was any provision for disabled sport.
“We felt that disabled people should have the right to not only access the leisure centre, but actually have activities put on that they would enjoy,” Mr Humphris said.
Assisted swimming sessions are running every Saturday afternoon, while paralympic sport boccia is being run each week at the BLC on a pay-as-you-play basis.
Wheelchair basketball players are also able to make use of a full size court there on Sundays.
Meanwhile, those who played indoor archery at SportsAble are using other clubs, including the Furze Platt Leisure Centre.
Mr Humphris added that art and therapy sessions are hoped to be continued at BLC in the next ‘couple of weeks’, while shooting has moved to Marlow Shooting Club.
“Although it is slow progress, we have to understand that the leisure centre had been out of use for over a year and a lot of changes needed to take place,” he added.
“So we are very happy that we are making progress and are pleased with the reception we have had.”
Mr Humphris told the meeting that more information on disability sport could be found on a Facebook group called After SportsAble, with its website due to change to this name.
It is also hoped that the BLC will add a dedicated disability sports section to its website, while a permanent position at the council for a disabled sports officer could also be created.
But Mr Humphris did raise concerns that the folding of SportsAble meant losing a ‘central hub’ where newly disabled people could explore options.
“Although it was painful to close SportsAble, we did recognise that there were other ways of doing exactly the same thing,” he said.
“What I am fearful about is there is no way that newly disabled people can approach one organisation and be signposted into sports.
“If they have never played table tennis before, then approaching the table tennis club is quite difficult.
“That is what we will be missing, that central hub. The rest of it will work quite well.”
Also discussed at Monday's meetings were plans to scrap future funding for the Maidenhead arts centre, Norden Farm. Read more on that here.
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