The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has signed up to a ground-breaking participation and equality initiative.
The Include Me West Midlands Pledge is a movement of change to a more inclusive region, facilitated by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in partnership with Sport England and disability charity Activity Alliance.
The pledge shows disabled people, and those with long-term health conditions, that an organisation has made a commitment to support and consider how it can engage better with people and is open to listening to their thoughts and views.
It is a regional approach to making the West Midlands an exemplar region for engaging disabled people and those with long-term health conditions to be physically active.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “This latest signing to Include Me WM helps raise the profile of this initiative which helps to challenge perceptions and change lives of disabled people.
“Having the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on board will help give disabled people, and people with long-term health conditions a voice to help improve access and opportunities across the West Midlands. In addition, it gives organisations the opportunity to contribute to making the region a better place to live.
“Include Me WM is an example of how all of us who work and live here have a part to play in the success of the West Midlands and how all of us can use our unique roles to deliver lasting change across our region.”
Supporting Include Me WM is just one way that Birmingham 2022 is looking to ensure that the Games, the biggest event ever to be staged in the region, will be the most accessible Commonwealth Games in history.
Ian Reid, chief executive of Birmingham 2022, said: “Signing up to Include Me WM, which is such an important initiative for the region, further underlines our pledge to organise an accessible event and follows our recent unveiling of the Birmingham 2022 Accessibility and Inclusion Commitment.
“This Commitment incorporates the Birmingham 2022 Inclusive Games Standard, which takes current legislation and existing regulations as a baseline and builds on these to create a new blueprint for accessibility standards at a Commonwealth Games and for major events being held in the West Midlands for years to come.”
So far 64 organisations have signed up to the pledge including Coventry City’s charity Sky Blues in the Community, Aston Villa Community Foundation and the Wasps Group.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the WMCA portfolio holder for wellbeing and leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “It is highly encouraging to see such a high-profile event show its commitment to improving how it engages with disabled people.
“The pledge will help break down barriers and accommodate the diverse needs across the West Midlands, so people feel empowered to get active and lead a healthy lifestyle.”
Include Me WM goes deeper than simply creating access to sports or leisure facilities, as it is about having an appropriately trained workforce, improved transport, access to services and inclusive messaging and imagery.
The aim is to make a positive difference to disabled people and people with long-term health conditions by giving them a voice to help improve access and opportunities across the West Midlands.
Include Me WM uses the Activity Alliance Talk to Me principles to identify how organisations can make improvements to engage better with people. Focusing on these areas helps organisations understand their needs and make physical activity a viable option.
Initial evaluation has shown there are three Activity Alliance Talk to Me principles that Include Me WM participating organisations value the most. The first is Listen to Me, which refers to discussing needs in a safe and private environment and listening to thoughts and views on how to improve services.
The second is showing that disabled people are already undertaking activities and working within an organisation, to give others the confidence to be involved, referred to as Show Me. The third is using the channels that are trusted to communicate with disabled people and people with long term health conditions. Called My Channels, this includes organisations wanting to look at how they can make their communications more inclusive.
Caption: Paralympian and former wheelchair basketball international, Dr Mark Fosbrook, who is seconded to the WMCA from the charity Activity Alliance to manage Include Me WM