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  • Writer's pictureDisability Rights UK

Landmark Funding Announced for Second Stage of Moving Social Work Programme

Moving Social Work, a co-produced programme designed to encourage social workers to speak about physical activity with Disabled people, has been awarded a second funding stage.

Disability Rights UK and Durham University are excited to announce their collaboration as part of the Moving Social Work programme, which will be expanding thanks to a £1 million investment from Sport England. Moving Social Work is an evidence-based and co-produced education programme designed to encourage social workers to speak about physical activity with Disabled people.

It focuses on the role that social workers can play in improving the quality and levels of physical activity for Disabled people, to help reduce health inequalities and improve social justice.

Disabled people are at a disadvantage when it comes to moving more due to factors such as inaccessible facilities, medical discrimination, policy barriers, the Activity Trap and a need for upskilling social and care professionals.

This new funding will enable the Moving Social Work project to scale up nationally, embedding a promotion of physical activity into social work’s professional culture and curricula. It will also enable the project to engage social workers and Disabled people in championing the benefits of physical activity for Disabled people.

Moving Social Work is a key step towards creating an inclusive physical activity landscape in the social work sector. It supports Disability Rights UK’s Get Yourself Active project, which was set up as a Disabled-led campaign to tackle some of the barriers faced by Disabled people when participating in physical activity.

Moving Social Work began in 2018 and is based on rigorous research into how best to educate and train social work students and social workers in how to promote physical activity to and for Disabled people.

The programme has delivered 21 lectures to over 300 social work students and 10 training sessions to social workers across 6 local authorities. The positive results of this research proved that Moving Social Work upskills and empowers social workers to promote physical activity in their daily work.

The programme is co-produced with partners, including Social Work England, social workers, Disabled people, Disability Rights UK, county council leaders and the NHS.

In its next phase, Moving Social Work will also develop and evaluate a place-based model for the project, in collaboration with Social Work England, DPOs, Active Partnerships, NHS and local authorities.

Lydia Bone, Programme Manager at Get Yourself Active said: “Disability Rights UK are pleased to be moving onto the second phase of the successful Moving Social Work programme, in partnership with Durham University and Sport England.

"We know that social workers are crucial messengers to the people they support. By delivering evidence-based and co-produced insight into how to empower social workers to have more frequent and better-quality conversations with Disabled people about physical activity, we hope this will, in turn, help tackle health inequalities and empower Disabled people to be more active."

"The programme will be essential for our work around identifying root causes of health inequalities that Disabled people face and working collectively to change these for the long term.”

Professor Brett Smith, Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Durham University, said: “Moving Social Work is a powerful investment for tackling health inequalities. It is an excellent example of why we must rethink approaches to physical activity and invest in work that moves beyond ‘more of the same’.

“This collaborative, innovative and transformative research is the result of years of working with Disabled people, social care professionals, health professionals, and active partnerships.

“Our aim is for Moving Social Work to be embedded in national social work education and training so that social workers, as trusted professionals, can effectively promote physical activity and tackle health inequalities.

“We also aim to deliver new ideas and practical actions regarding physical activity and intersectionality, co-production, conversations as interventions, and how social care and health professionals can work best together.”

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England and Government Disability & Access Ambassador for Sport and Activity, said: “I am delighted that our investment in and support for Moving Social Work is continuing – it has huge potential to change the lives of millions of Disabled people who face daily barriers to activity.

“In supporting social workers with training, confidence and resources they need to embed conversations about physical activity in their work with Disabled people, we want to empower more Disabled people to benefit from physical activity in ways that work for them.”

Since it began in 2015, Disability Rights UK has worked tirelessly to increase Disabled people’s participation in sports and physical activity so that everyone can experience its benefits. Click here to see their latest projects.


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