Swim England

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Ripple Effect volunteer Allyson Irvine wins ‘This Girl Can’ Inclusion Award

Swim England Ripple Effect volunteer Allyson Irvine recently won the ‘This Girl Can’ Get Out Get Active Nottingham Inclusion Award for her voluntary work across the area.

The awards aim to celebrate those working in communities who make a positive impact on the lives of others and enable physical activity.

Allyson is part of a small cohort of volunteers who have joined the Ripple Effect project – funded by Spirit of 2012 – which aims to identify and overcome the barriers for disabled volunteers to get involved in aquatic sports.

She’s recently helped out at a number of national events across the year, including the British Masters Championships in June and last week’s GoCardless Swim England National Winter Championships, after training to become both a timekeeper and judge.

Allyson joined the project through Limbpower, one of the national disability sporting organisations that have supported the project to ensure that the inclusive programme is developed by disabled people.

She received the Get Out Get Active Inclusion Award which recognises someone who has ‘actively created a positive environment for people with disabilities and long term health conditions to be more active in the community’.

Speaking on her achievement Allyson said: “I was over the moon to win this award.

“I didn’t expect to win but it’s incredible to know that your work is being recognised so I’m very proud of this achievement

Opportunities and breaking down barriers

“I first got into volunteering because I can understand how people feel when they have lost a limb or limbs and I can help support them on this new journey in their lives.

“And joining the Ripple Effect project has encouraged me to help people with disabilities get into swimming and other activities. It’s something I’ve enjoyed very much, it’s so interesting and I’m loving learning about timekeeping and judging.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back on poolside soon, I think it’s great that we as disabled people are given this opportunity to break down the barriers to volunteering.”

Allyson encourages anyone disabled and able bodied to get involved in volunteering and is looking forward to the future of the Ripple Effect Project.

“I would encourage anybody who wants to learn something new to get involved as it’s been a great eye opener for me.

“To work with abled body people, learn from each other and prove that we can do these things too. There’s no reason for us to say ‘we can’t do this’ because we can!

“I really hope that the Ripple Effect has opened the door for people with disabilities to learn. There should be nothing to stop anyone with a disability to become a volunteer for anything.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the Ripple Effect carries on with this journey for people with disabilities. I’m sure there’s many out there that would love to be given an opportunity like myself to get involved with volunteering work with Swim England or any other sport programmes.”

You can find out more about Swim England’s Ripple Effect Project here.

Image: This Girl Can Nottingham