A sporting event involving disabled people and those who have lost their sight has been staged in the city.
Wheelchair basketball, blind football, a wheelchair obstacle race and a tug of war were all part of the activities on the day at the Inclusive Games held at the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub, located on the corner of Upper Warwick Street and Windsor Street in Toxteth.
The event featured disabled people competing with teams of non-disabled people who used wheelchairs and blindfolds to provide a level playing field in all the sports on the day. More than 70 people competed on the day.
The event, staged by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and its Fire Fit volunteers working with the charity Daisy Inclusive UK (Daisy UK), was held to celebrate and mark the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities and International Day of People with Disability.
Groups taking part included Daisy UK, Guide Dogs, firefighters and volunteers and members of the Youth Engagement Team at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.
The theme of this year’s day was “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”.
Merseyside charity fundraiser Michelle Lewis, who was awarded an MBE for her charity work, opened the event with Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan. Pupils from Windsor Community Primary School, in Toxteth, also cheered on the teams and got to meet Guide Dogs at the event as well as learn about different sports.
Mr Garrigan said: “This is the first Inclusive Games we have held and its focus was to provide a level playing field for disabled and non-disabled people from across Merseyside in a safe and fun atmosphere.
“Vulnerable people including those with disabilities are a key focus area for our Service and our firefighters and staff work with people living in homes across Merseyside to help to make them safer and reduce the risk and chance of them experiencing a fire.”
Staff from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) taking part included members of the Youth Engagement Team and the Prince’s Trust Team programme, run by MF&RS at community fire stations across Merseyside.
MF&RS Diversity and Consultation Manager Wendy Kenyon said: “We continue to work with vulnerable people to understand their needs. This helps us make communities safer from fire. This event illustrates some of the great work that the organisations involved in the games do to support disabled communities and to help empower them to participate fully in public life.
“We have also been working with our staff to help them gain a greater understanding of diversity so they can develop more ways to engage with vulnerable members of the community who are more at risk of experiencing a fire.
“The event also provided an opportunity for our Prince’s Trust Team programme staff as it will help them introduce more inclusive places for young people on the courses run at community fire stations across Merseyside.”
Dave Kelly, who is managing director of Daisy UK and lost his sight at the age of 30, said: “It was a great day and a superb event – I’d really like to thank Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub for their help and work to stage the event.
“My goal is the inclusion of all disabled people to reach their true potential and this is to be done by breaking down the barriers within society. The Inclusive Games event on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities really helps towards this goal.
“My aim is to support our disabled community through the transition from inactivity to activity, school leaving age to adulthood, education to meaningful employment and beyond. Through the mediums of sport, education and employment, we support our community in achieving what mainstream society typically assumes impossible for someone with a disability.”
The Toxteth Fire Fit Hub is a unique project which has seen the creation of a Youth Zone with sporting facilities as part of the Myplace scheme, which provides world-class facilities for young people from across Liverpool. Annual membership is available for young people for the site. More information can be obtained by calling the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub on 0151 296 6800.
Pictured (left to right) : Dave Kelly, director of Daisy UK, with Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan and Merseyside charity fundraiser Michelle Lewis, MBE, at the Inclusive Games event at the Toxteth Fire Fit Hub.Photo: Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS)