Redbridge disability chief calls for better access to sport as legacy of Paralympics

08:00 24 August 2012

Abida Iqbal

Abida Iqbal

Archant

The chairman of a disabled women’s group says more needs to be done to give disabled people access to sport.

Abida Iqbal, 62, said the Paralympics will encourage more disabled people to want to be involved with sports and facilities should accommodate this.

Mrs Iqbal, chairman of the Redbridge Disabled Women’s Welfare Association, said her members were all excited about the Games, which begin on Wednesday.

“I have been waiting four years for this moment. I love it,” she said. “It will be really beneficial.”

She hopes the legacy of the Paralympics will be to make disabled people more involved with sport.

“It tells disabled people that they are part of the community as well and not kept away by saying you cannot do this or that. They will feel good as it’s something for us,” she added.

The upsurge of people taking up sports inspired by the Olympics is something which could be replicated after the Paralympics, she said.

“Everyone was riding, walking and running around during the Olympics. People took notice so I think it will be the same [for the Paralympics],” she said. “There needs to be more disabled access to sports facilities.”

Mrs Iqbal believes one of the ways facilities could be improved around the borough is by increasing the number of benches in parks and disabled access to swimming pools.

She said: “Every meeting the women ask about swimming. We used to go to Ilford Swimming Baths but that closed.”

Although she has tried to take the group to Fullwell Cross Leisure Centre, High Street, Barkingside many of the women do not want to swim while men are present and it is only possible to rent half of the pool.

A Redbridge spokesman said: “Due to pressures on the pool timetable, we were only able to offer RDWWA half the pool space at Fullwell Cross but the option wasn’t taken.

“Redbridge Cycling Centre is fully accessible and has a wide range of adapted bikes available for hire, free sessions are also offered at certain times.

“Vision’s sport and health team have a dedicated officer who has responsibility for inclusivity in sport and activity.”

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