Norwood cyclingLearning disability charity Norwood has received £121,000 in funding from City of London Corporation’s charity the City Bridge Trust to boost its inclusive sports programme Change the Game. 

Change the Game is a user-led programme that aims to increase access and help to redefine attitudes to sport for people with learning disabilities. By offering sports sessions in parks and sports centres, the programme supports participants in accessing a range of sports at suitable ability levels. The grant will be used to deliver the final stages of this programme, helping people with learning disabilities, aged between 14-25 years and 26+ years, to pursue sports at elite level, including wider participation in high level competitive sports. 

The service was established to meet demand from local residents with learning disabilities who have normally been held back from taking part in sports activities due to lack of opportunities and concerns over transport and cost. Under the Change the Game programme, 400 participants will be able to engage in sports activities over a 3-year period, and 100 of them will be engaging at the elite level with help from Norwood’s trained staff and volunteers. In addition, 15 individuals will receive job coaching and training opportunities within the sports field.

Pauline Smith, Norwood’s head of operations said: “This funding from City Bridge Trust will enable us to work with people who want to take part in international sports challenges, the Special Olympics, or to find a job in the industry. Through the delivery of this project, we will support people to embed sports into their everyday lives, becoming healthier and more independent.”

Jeremy Mayhew, chairman of the City Bridge Trust, added: “Lack of suitable provision and access can create barriers for people with learning disabilities and reduce their chances of enjoying sports or even pursuing a career in competitive sport. The necessary facilities, a supportive environment, and access to specialist training can make a vital and positive difference. City Bridge Trust fully supports Norwood’s valuable work, empowering people with learning disabilities to achieve maximum independence and enhancing health and well-being through sports.”

City Bridge Trust is the grant-making arm of Bridge House Estates, whose sole trustee is the City of London Corporation. It supports London’s charities and provides grants totalling around £15 million annually.

The effect that taking part in sports can have is demonstrated by Michael Kuperberg (pictured), who Norwood supports, “Until I came to Norwood, I was nervous about cycling, then thanks to the support and love I’ve received from Norwood, I now love cycling and have been on a tandem cycling ride to Thailand,” he said.