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Metro Blind Sport CEO looks to tackle barriers to participation

By Andy Knaggs    29 Mar 2019
This year more than 80 VI athletes took part in the annual Metro athletics event
I would like to tackle some of the barriers to participation for VI people
– Martin Symcox

Recently appointed chief executive officer Martin Symcox has a list of improvements he wants to make at Metro Blind Sport, including introducing new sports, increasing volunteer numbers, and tackling barriers to participation.

Speaking to Sports Management in issue 4 2018, Symcox said that sport was able to bring huge benefits for visually-impaired (VI) people, including physical fitness, social interaction and balance and sensory awareness. Metro Blind Sport works to open up sporting opportunities to blind and partially sighted people mostly living within Greater London, with core sports supported including archery, athletics, bowls, cricket, football and tennis.

Having worked previously as a director for the Royal Life Saving Society UK, Symcox says he is “passionate about effecting change that improves people’s lives”.

Asked about his plans for Metro Blind Sport, he answered: “I aim, alongside my newly appointed sports development officer, to be focused on providing support for our core sports, as these are the foundation of our activity. I would like to see the expansion of these sports and introduce new sports to our members.

“Like many smaller charities, we’re reliant on volunteer support and it’s my intention to work alongside partners to increase the number of people volunteering for Metro.

“I would also like to tackle some of the barriers to participation for VI people, such as lack of transport to venues/activities, cost of participating, low confidence, concerns about the level of ability, awareness of opportunities on offer, matters of safety and accessibility of suitable facilities, and visual awareness knowledge of staff.”

A further plan for Metro is to act on the recommendations from a report by RICA (the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs), which looked into the development and provision of electronic fitness equipment for VI users. The report recommended more audio output and voiceover technology for electronic fitness equipment, as well as improved staff training and communication procedures, and the implementation of a voluntary buddy scheme at all public sector leisure centres to assist visually-impaired and other diasbled users.

To read the full article see Issue 4 2018 of Sports Management here

Cricket is one of Metro Blind Sport's core sports for visually-impaired people
Metro Blind Sport  Martin Symcox  blind  visually impaired  RICA  Research Institute for Consumer Affairs 
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