Ultimate guide to accessible clubs in the UK
28th March 2018
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
There are many people who struggle with limited mobility in the UK and with around 1 in 5 people who are disabled. The sheer volume of the population who are reliant on home mobility aids such as a new stairlift or a mobility scooter to help them stay mobile are catered to in their want to do sport. Though many sports may initially appear to be off-limits to people with limited mobility, there are lots of clubs across the country that have adapted to their members and through special equipment or targeted training, have helped their members to a more active future.
Archery and shooting
Deal Rifle Club
For those based near the historic town of Deal, the Deal Rifle Club offers both camaraderie and an adapted space, so people can hone their aim and learn to shoot a variety of weapons at both moving and fixed targets. The indoor range allows members to practice all year round on four 25 metre lanes.
British Wheelchair Archery Association
The British Wheelchair Archery Association is a great supporter of those who have tried adapted archery at a local club and wish to take it further. Training the elite ready for national competitions and even the Paralympics, they offer training weekends and coaching programmes.
Kent Archery Association
The Kent Archery Association is the place to start if someone is looking for an archery club in the county. As the organiser of tournaments and championships, the association is very involved with the sport. They also help bring together lots of clubs in the area, many of which offer accessible and level indoor and outdoor training grounds such as the 1066 Archery Club just outside Tenterden, Kent.
For people who are looking to take their shooting one step further, or have been suitably inspired by the medals won by Team GB in the Paralympics, the Disability Shooting Great Britain offers information on affiliated clubs and recommended coaches. It also recommends its ‘hub clubs’ that are easily accessible. Braunton Target Shooting Club is one of these and with its wheelchair accessibility and disabled bathroom facilities, it is perfect for anyone in the North Devon Area.
The Bury Bombers are a wheelchair basketball club for all the family. They offer monthly sessions for children between the ages of 4 and 8, while older children, teenagers and adults can join their weekly sessions in the appropriate group.
Wheelchair basketball can be a contact sport, but that shouldn’t put people off. They Bury Bombers take on people of all ages and abilities so for those based in Suffolk, near Bury St Edmunds, they should definitely go join this lively community.
The Sussex Bears offer teams for both the able and less mobile and their wheelchair basketball team trains near Lancing in West Sussex. The wheelchair basketball team also compete in the British Wheelchair Basketball National League division 3.
As fierce as the animal they are named for, the Warwickshire Bears do not believe in being beaten and with a positive attitude and strong team spirit, they are a competitive team who support each other both on and off the pitch. This club is committed not only to their sport but also to breaking down adversity and run many community projects alongside their training.
Wheelchair rugby is less of an easy translation to wheels than other sports, and instead, it is a combination of ice hockey, handball and rugby and was originally founded in Canada back in 1977. Canterbury RFC is the only club in Kent that offers access to this Paralympian sport.
This tactically intelligent and yet exciting and contact game is available for anyone over the age of twelve with varying ability who live in that corner of Kent.
For those based up north near Glasgow, the Caledonian Crushers are a rugby wheelchair club that was inspired by the only Scottish player on team GB, Michael Kerr. Since their conception in 2011, the club’s aim is to get as many people as possible involved with wheelchair rugby in Scotland.
Thus far they have attracted players from all over central Scotland and have built not only a strong team but also a strong community amongst their members.
The Woolverstone Project
For people who hunger for a taste of the open water, The Woolverstone Project offers sailing opportunities for those with limited mobility on the river Orwell. The Royal Harwich Yacht Club invested in the project back in 1993 when they felt their sport should be accessible to all.
The Woolverstone Project offers opportunities for those who have sailed before while full-bodied and wish to reclaim old skills or have never sailed in their lives and want to try their hand at something new. The project also enters competitions and even has some of their members compete for team GB.
Kingston Kayak Club
Some people prefer an activity that offers more of an adrenalin rush than sailing and Kingston Kayak Club in East Yorkshire offers a range of disciplines that can be practised in their indoor and outdoor facilities. While the club enjoys recreational canoeing on some of the most attractive water in the area, namely Pocklington Canal, Frodingham Beck and the upper stretches of the River Hull, there is always the opportunity for some fierce competition whether it’s white water rafting, canoe slalom or canoe polo.
The Sussex Sailability endeavour is run by volunteers and with 15 adapted vessels to be helmed and crewed, ranging from single-handers to speed racing boats, there is sure to be something that appeals to everyone. The Sussex Yacht Club premises at Shoreham have been modified for disability access. Sussex Sailability has installed hoists on to the jetties to lift sailors to and from their wheelchairs.
Unfortunately, members have to be over the age of 14 as Sussex Sailability choose to sail on coastal waters, that though more interesting, require this age limit.
Since para-rowing events were added to the World Rowing Championships and Summer Paralympic Games, Team GB has known great success including gold medals. Scottish Rowing is keen to encourage people of all abilities into the sport in an effort to inspire the community and keep up the success thus far.
Strathclyde Park Rowing Club is at the heart of adaptive rowing and through a range of facilities and expert training, they are able to accommodate most needs.
The AHOY Centre is based in London and is perfect for people who want to take a break from the city and feel a bit closer to nature. Not only does their centre and facilities have complete wheelchair access, but they also have a very special craft: ‘The AHOY Freedom’. She was commissioned specifically by us for a mixed ability crew with state of the art technology to allow the disabled crew to steer and skipper her.
Other team sports
Kent Disability Football League
What began as a small pilot scheme back in 2005 has grown to over 50 small sided teams regularly taking part in the League making it the largest County Disability League in the country. With clubs across Kent taking place, the league is inclusive of all ages and abilities. The Kent Disability Football League is banded by abilities so individuals play at an appropriate level.
Cambridge & Coleridge
This athletic club based in Cambridge has recently welcomed wheelchair racers and since then has expanded to a more adaptive training program. Cambridge and Coleridge Athletic Club describe their wheelchair athletics as: “suitable for anyone with a disability affecting one or both legs - be it paralysis, amputation, impaired co-ordination/muscle tone, leg length difference - all kinds of things! It’s also appropriate for people with conditions which affect their health more widely or who, for whatever reason, find walking (and running) difficult. Many of us also have additional problems related to our disabilities (e.g. limited arm function, autonomic disorders and so on). You do not have to be a full-time wheelchair user to come along.
“The group is friendly and welcoming, no matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, what your disability is or how it affects you, how fit you are, whether you want to do it for fun or to race, or what age you are - anyone can come and take part!”
Voted Badminton club of the year in 2014, the Devon Racqueteers are a para badminton club accessible for people with any type of disability. With both coached sessions and free play, this club is a great opportunity to join a lively community and try your hand at one of the UK’s favourite sports. With no joining requirements and all standards of players welcome, this club is really accessible to everyone.
The Tennis Foundation believes that tennis is a sport for absolutely everybody, that it can be adapted to any physical needs and be enjoyed at any skill ranges, from the complete novice up to the international athletes. To prove this claim, they offer to supply specialist equipment to help people get started on their journey to their new favourite sport. The Tennis Foundation will help you find a club near you so you can get involved and join this vibrant community.
Fishing is a popular sport and has been mentioned before as being a great hobby for those with limited mobility. At Pittlands Lakes Angling Club, they have ensured accessibility and disabled toilets among their facility, so people of any ability are able to take part. People can visit the club before becoming members to see if it would suit their needs as well as to try their hand at a little angling.
The Suffolk Spartans are as tough as they sound and this unique powerlifting club in East Anglia is ready to welcome new people to their sport: “We are just as keen to welcome those who wish to try a new sport and we will support the outcomes you personally wish to achieve.”
With members travelling to international competitions, the Suffolk Spartans have seen success from their determination and training.
Wheelchair Dance Sport Association
For people who wish to incorporate self-expression with their exercise, Para Dance UK believes anyone can dance. Their goal is noble for the community: “Our aim is to promote and develop wheelchair dancing as a sport and leisure activity across the country, to raise the standard of instruction and competition in the UK and internationally at all levels. As well as making dance, in whatever form, FUN, exciting and something that individuals who are part of this association and who take part in wheelchair dance are proud to say “I can do that”.
“Wheelchair Dance Sport and Wheelchair Dancing is accessible to anyone, with no boundaries in terms of age or level of ability.”
They can help people find an accessible dance club near to their home and get involved in the sport.
Disabled Racing Drivers Car Club
Cars are a universal hobby and from enthusiasts of banger racing to those who want to watch a carefully engineered machine glide around a beautifully kept track, it is a topic that everyone can wade in on. The Disabled Racing Drivers Car Club is a community that welcomes motoring enthusiasts whatever their ability.
This club competes but still keeps things fun, so members can build up their confidence and enjoy spending time in their new community.
Norfolk Gliding Club
There is no need for people to feel bound to earth, especially with the glideability scheme that Norfolk Gliding Club offers. With a specially adapted glider, people with limited mobility can take to the air and fully experience all the joys that flying has to offer. According to the Norfolk Gliding Club: “Through the support and funding from a number of organisations Norfolk Gliding Club has adapted a dual control training glider for use by those with no lower limb control. If you have sufficient arm movement and can drive a car, you can probably fly a glider!”