A disabled veteran is one of many devastated people facing the prospect of losing their access to sport and exercise activities in Peterborough after a city charity claimed it failed to receive renewed funding.
Inspire Peterborough says it is facing the real prospect of going bust in a few months after Sport England decided not to allocate it more money to continue helping thousands of disabled people in the city.
The charity, which formed in 2013 after the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, is now trying to raise £10,000 to keep it afloat as it seeks new long-term funding.
Inspire Peterborough’s gym in Amilly House, South Street, Stanground, is popular with many disabled people, including wheelchair user Barry Plumb. He said “Coming to the gym is not just about keeping fit, it’s about getting away from social isolation.
“You’re meeting new people and making new friends,
“When I became disabled, if I did not make a lot of effort to keep fit my health would deteriorate.
“At the age of 57 I’m doing my best to keep fit and agile through seated exercise classes. It makes a huge difference to how I feel.
“It would be a tremendous loss if it was not here.”
Barry has now convinced former military medic Andy, who suffered a spinal injury called AS while serving in Iraq, to join him at the gym.
Andy (47) from Whittlesey, who did not wish to give his surname, said: “AS responds to exercise. The more you keep fit the better you manage your health.I’m a convert to the gym and I’m
in the process of trying to get other ex-military people to come along.”
Inspire Peterborough was set up by Disability Forum manager Bryan Tyler and Cllr Irene Walsh and received £277,720 from Sport England - which is responsible for grassroots sport in England - in 2014 and an additional £48,497 in 2017.
However, that funding will not be renewed.
The charity has helped more than 3,000 people take part in sporting activities in the past four years and helped thousands more learn what
facilities are available to them.
That support includes the annual Sporting Saturday where people with disabilities can try lots of different sports.
Inspire Peterborough manager Nikki Griffiths said its affordable activities help people of all ages - whether it be improving the health and confidence of children or getting a 102-year-old to do tai chi.
She added: “We have a list of activities from archery to zumba and we have a very successful ice skating project with 650 members. We also helped to grow the Peterborough Phantoms para ice hockey team.
“People tell us we are a source of inspiration. They all know when they come to our group will be met by a friendly club and volunteers.”
Kay Greenaway, chair of Special Olympics Peterborough, said Inspire had secured it funding which allowed it
to provide more sport for people with intellectual disabilities.
A spokesman for Sport England said: “Inspire Peterborough were awarded funding of £326,217 over four years through our ‘Inclusive Sport’ fund. Although that particular fund has now come to an end, Inspire Peterborough are welcome to apply for funding from any of our other open investment programmes.
“Details of these, including any criteria that applicants need to meet, are announced on our website and in our newsletter as they become available.”
To donate to Inspire Peterborough visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/standupfordisabilitysportinpeterborough.
Inspire Peterborough an inspiration
Gym user Sandra Darby relies on tai chi classes at Inspire Peterborough’s gym as her neck and back injuries used to leave her lying on the floor. She said: “If Inspire - through lack of funding- were to stop helping Peterborough’s disabled community then I would have to find another class or end up lying on the floor again.”
Volunteers Matthew Beeby and Sam Whyman said: “When we first came here we were shy. But these roles have given us the chance to learn about the working world and to help others.”
Kenny Brown said: “It would break my heart to see Inspire’s impact on Peterborough’s community disappear to nothing because of a lack of funding.
“I was a carer for my terminally ill mother and she would have loved a community like the one we have at Inspire.
“I see the impact it has on everyone.”