Sport and physical activity should be accessible to everyone, no matter their background or bank balance. Sports clubs, groups and organisations are uniquely placed to provide opportunities for everyone to get active and engaged. This page explores some of the factors that may affect participation and volunteering, and how clubs, groups and organisations can work to become more accessible.

Links to content below:

Ethnically Diverse Communities

Disabled People & People with Long Term Health Conditions

Lower Socio-Economic Groups

Top Tips for being Inclusive

Why is a person-centred approach important?

Inclusion Training

Did you know?

  • Women are more likely to volunteer within sport than men, but they are less likely to participate themselves. 
  • Many people with disabilities or long-term health conditions (LTHCs) want to be more active.
  • People over the age of 55 are much more likely to be inactive compared to younger adults. 
  • Just over half of children and young people in England don’t meet the recommended exercise levels for their age group. 
  • The fear of being bullied or of not being accepted can be a factor for LGBT+ people that choose not to ‘come out’ within the sports club or group they are part of. 
  • 1/3 of adults on low incomes are inactive.
  • People from diverse ethnic groups are less active than those from White or mixed groups. 


Being welcoming and inclusive is a feature of many successful community sports clubs, groups and organisations. Offering a positive experience for all participants and volunteers regardless of ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, financial situation or ability benefits both your organisation and the people involved with it.


Why is it important for your organisation to be inclusive?

Everyone should be able to enjoy sport and physical. As organisations that support the delivery of sport and physical activity it is important that you do as much as possible to make your offer as inclusive and accessible to everyone. Organisations have a legal requirement as set out in the Equality Act (2010) which requires you to make reasonable adjustments to services and offers so that everyone has the opportunity to access them. This does not however just mean making your facilities wheelchair-user friendly, but adapting the activities you offer so that anyone who wants to attend or be involved with your organisation can.

What are the benefits of being inclusive?

Promoting inclusivity and celebrating diversity throughout your organisation can have a number of benefits, including:

  • Support with your organisations' growth, maximising your membership base and volunteer workforce, helping your organisation to attract and retain members and volunteers, creating a positive and welcoming environment for all.
  • Attracting and retaining members and volunteers also supports with the sustainability and security of your organisation, ensuring your organisation will be around in the future.
  • Meeting the needs of different community groups increases local opportunities for people that may otherwise miss out. 
  • Having a membership and volunteer base that is representative of your local community.
  • Helping to break down stereotypes that may exist within your local community.

People may also be more likely to recommend your organisation to others. 

Research has shown that some groups are less likely than others to be participate and volunteer in sport and physical activity. The below section gives an overview of groups who experience inequalities, with some helpful links, as well as advice on how you can best support everyone to be active.

For further information you can visit Sport England's ‘Creating an inclusive environments’ webpage

Ethnically Diverse Communities

Did you know?

  • There is wide mix of ethnic groups in England however a high proportion of people from ethnically diverse communities have experienced racism in sport.
  • The proportion of people that meet the recommended levels of physical activity from ethnically diverse communities is significantly lower than the national average.
  • 2 in 5 people from ethnically diverse communities felt they have fewer opportunities to participate in sport and physical activity than someone from a white background.


It is important to understand the barriers which can stop people from participating or volunteering, the common barriers that exist have been highlighted below. It is however important to recognise that individuals will face a wide range of unique challenges and barriers, organisations are encouraged to take time to understand people’s individual needs and accommodate these where possible.

Commonly faced barriers which can negatively impact future participation and volunteering may include:

  • Experience of racism - Previous experiences of racism in sport and physical activity.
  • Lack of diversity - Lack of visible diversity amongst participants and volunteers often discourages people from being involved as an organisation can be perceived as ‘non welcoming.’
  • Racial stereotypes - In society particular stereotypes have been associated to different ethnic groups, this form of discrimination can discourage involvement.
  • Dress Code - The kit people wear when participating can be a barrier for both males and females of particular ethnic and faith groups.
  • Lack of cultural understanding and awareness of ethnic diverse communities -  A lack of understanding of different ethnic community groups, their culture and their behaviours.
  • Mixed sport - Women from particular ethnic groups and faiths will not want to participate in activities with men or will be reluctant if men are present.
  • Language - English may not be the first language for many ethnically diverse communities.
  • Facilities - Lack of privacy in changing, showering and delivery areas.
  • Time of activities - For some groups offering activities at certain times or on specific days maybe a barrier particular if these are offered at times of pray/worship or holy days.

Helpful links for further reading include Sport England’s ‘Know Your Audience - Ethnicity’, Club Matters and their Sport For All report.

Disabled People & People with Long Term Health Conditions

Did you know?

1 in 5 people in the UK have an impairment or long-term health condition (LTHC). Despite this, disabled people or people living with a LTHC are less likely to be part of a sports club, group or organisation.

How do we define disabled people and people with a LTHC?

Disability can be defined as ‘a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative impact on people’s ability to do normal daily activities’.

LTHCs are conditions that cannot, at present, be cured, but can be managed by medication and/or other treatments/therapies.

It is important to recognise that not all impairments or LTHCs are visible but they can impact a person’s ability to be part of activities, participate or volunteer in sport and physical activity. It is therefore important for organisations to understand people’s needs to support everyone to have a meaningful and positive experience.


A number of barriers rise when the number of impairments that a person has increases, barriers can be broken into three main types:

  • Psychological barriers may include; Personal perceptions leading to thoughts of not being able to or not wanting to take part in sport or physical activity. The misunderstanding of what the activity offer is and includes, often leads to these negative perceptions, Bad past experiences, The impression from others, unable to advise or provide information on suitable activities, this may give the impression that you don't support people with specific needs.
  • Physical barriers may include; a lack of suitable facilities and equipment which are not accessible for the needs of disabled people or people with LTHCs, Adaptions or changes to facilities, equipment or activities offered may not be provided due to the health and safety concerns associated with these changes.
  • Logistical barriers may include; location of your organisation and the sessions that you run, expenses involved in travelling and purchasing specialised equipment, ability to involve family members/friends or carers to support attendance, inaccessibility of marketing and communications resulting in a lack of knowledge of activities or volunteering opportunities, the suitability and desire of an organisation to mix disabled people and people with LTHCs with non-disabled people.  

How does your organisation embed inclusivity for disabled people and people with LTHCs?

To help address specific barriers, it is important to consider what changes you could make. Research carried out by the Activity Alliance found there are 10 principles. Organisations delivering sport and physical activity can use these 10 principles to improve their offer for disabled people and people with LTHCs.

Activity Alliance is the national charity and leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity. A wide range of information and guidance, resources and training is available on Activity Alliance’s website. You can also visit Activity Alliance’s YouTube channel for further videos and practical advice.

For further insight, visit the ‘Know Your Audience - Health Conditions’ section on the Sport England website. Also head to the homepage for their ‘We Are Undefeatable’ campaign which is run with expert partners including Age UK, Mind, Diabetes UK, the MS Society and more.

Useful Resources:

Useful Newsletters to stay up to date with the latest information:

Lower Socio-Economic Groups

Did you know?

  • 12 million adults are from lower socio-economic groups. (Source: Office of National Statistics 2011).
  • 1 in 3 adults from lower socio-economic groups are inactive, compared to 1 in 6 adults from the highest socio-economic groups (Source: Sport England, Active Lives data, 2020).
  • Families with the 20% lowest incomes have, on average, £3.21 to spend on active sport each week for the whole household (Source: Office of National Statistics, 2016).
  • People from lower socio-economic groups are less likely to volunteer than those in higher groups (Source: Sport England, Active Lives data, 2019).


Every individual is different but there are some barriers that people from lower-socio economic groups are more likely to face. These include, but are not limited to:

  • A lack of disposable income – people with very limited disposable income may not be able to meet the full cost of membership fees, training and match fees, transport costs, or buying kit or equipment. For some, it may be a choice between attending activity sessions and putting food on the table or heating the house.
  • Health inequalities – people from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to experience health inequalities. This means they are more likely to have mental and physical health conditions that can affect their likelihood to take part in sport.
  • Personal barriers – for some, joining a club or group can require a significant change in their behaviour or habits. Some may be worried about being judged or feeling out of place, and others may have wider responsibilities and commitments, such as multiple jobs or caring responsibilities. All of these can act as a barrier to participating or volunteering.

With the ongoing Cost of Living Crisis, more than a quarter of adults across the UK are now cutting their spending on physical activity and sport due to rising costs, according to new research.

How do we determine levels of deprivation?

The Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) are widely-used datasets within the UK to classify the relative deprivation of small areas. IMD combines information from 7 areas combining data from; Income Deprivation, Employment Deprivation, Education, Skills and Training Deprivation, Health Deprivation and Disability, Crime, Barriers to Housing and Services & Living Environment Deprivation.

IMD data scores areas on a scale of 1-10. Areas scoring 1 represent the top 10% most deprived areas nationally and those scoring 10 represent the least deprived areas nationally. Across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, we have 20 areas that fall into IMD 1, the top 10% of most deprived areas nationally; 18 in Telford & Wrekin and 2 in Shropshire.

 IMD data sets for Shropshire Telford & Wrekin:

Check out the ‘Spotlight on Lower Socio-Economic Groups’ report and the ‘Know Your Audience – LSEG’ web section from Sport England for more detail.

Being financially accessible can provide affordable opportunities for your local community, so consider what different membership options you may be able to offer – visit Sport England's Membership Options page for more.

Top Tips for being Inclusive

1) Ensure that your activity offer and facilities are inclusive:

  • Talk to and engage with participants and volunteers from diverse communities who may already be involved with your organisation or from your local community to identify their specific needs, wants and any barriers that might stop them from being involved.
  • Be flexible around kit and sports clothing that session attendees can wear.
  • Consider the timing of your offer. Speak to your members and volunteers to find out what works best for them.
  • Connect with other local groups who have a reputation of being inclusive.
  • Consider offering activities for different genders.
  • Involve friends and family. Use taster and drop-in sessions with ‘invite a friend or family member’ to give people the confidence to try out your activities with the support of their friends or family.
  • Ensure you provide activities in less competitive environments.
  • You should consider if your facilities allow for sufficient privacy in activity spaces and changing areas.
  • Carry out research, to understand the diversity within your local community and be specific in terms of the groups within the community you wish to engage and recruit.

2) Ensure your organisation's processes support inclusion:

Making sure that your organisations operations are underpinned by inclusive practices and procedures can be valuable in creating a more welcoming environment for people from ethnically diverse communities. These include:

  • Ensuring that you have an equality and diversity policy and equalities statement which are visible.
  • Developing an anti-racism and discrimination policy. Your policy should have clear reporting procedures to enable your participants and volunteers to report discriminatory abuse in confidence.
  • Appointing an inclusion officer, who is responsible for ensuring your organisation’s commitment to inclusion is upheld.
  • Reviewing your recruitment processes to ensure your organisation’s workforce is representative of your local community. Encourage those from diverse communities to be part of your decision-making processes. 
  • Calling out  discrimination. Educate your members and volunteers and encourage them to speak out if they hear or experience incidents.

3) Inclusive marketing and communications:

  • Using diverse imagery in your promotional material and communications. Which reflects your local community and the people you seek to attract.
  • Reaching out and promoting your offer to places where people from ethnically diverse communities may already meet (e.g., faith centres or local community groups).
  • Be specific on who you are looking to reach through your communications. Understanding and using the correct terminology in your organisations marketing and communications is important when seeking to engage with ethnically diverse communities. Check out Sporting Equals Terminology Guide for more information.
  • Focusing your promotion on the health and social benefits of participation.
  • Promoting your organisation’s commitment to inclusion to your local community.
  • Building relationships with schools, community group leaders and faith centres. You could seek their advice on adapting your offer to be more appealing for different ethnic groups.

4) Promote diverse events and diverse role models:

  • Highlight local and national role models. Identifying and engaging with existing role models within the community will act as an enabler for participation or volunteering. Use a diverse range of role models to promote your organisation.
  • Find out from local organisations about cultural events or celebrations that are taking place such as Asian Mela, Caribbean Carnivals, Chinese New Year or Diwali and offer information about your organisation, taster sessions and contact details.
  • Support anti-racism groups and campaigns such as Kick it Out, Black History Month, and Show Racism the Red Card.

Why is a person-centred approach important?

People from a wide range of diverse backgrounds are likely to have unique variations in their needs and the barriers they face. It is therefore unlikely to be a single barrier that impacts their desire or ability to participate or volunteer at your organisation.

To help address and understand the issues and barriers faced by individuals, organisations should look to adopt a person-centred approach. This approach enables organisations to look beyond people as one demographic. The organisation considers the connection between people’s values, motivations and other demographic groupings. It means you can develop an understanding of the participant and volunteer needs to tailor and meet their offer, where possible.

It can be very challenging to get it right as every audience has different needs, sometimes down to an individual level. But whatever you can do to meet specific needs will help to ensure your organisation is as inclusive as possible.

For more information read Activity Alliance’s ‘Taking a person-centred approach'.

Inclusion Training