For a group of disabled people in East Lothain, any form or disability or impairment presents no barrier to enjoying outdoor activity and sport. Beyond Boundaries East Lothian, or BBEL, provides disabled people with the opportunity to experience and participate in outdoor sports including everything from cycling, to canoeing and gorge walking. I feel privileged to have been asked to act as an ambassador for BBEL and am looking forward to representing and championing thier cause in the future.
The group started around 6 years ago and has grown significantly last year engaging with around 300 people across the county. At the moment BBEL is run on a completely voluntary basis and relies on people selflessly giving up their own time at weekends and evenings. BBEL tries not to make any distinction between volunteer and service user, everybody is a member and an equal and has an equal voice. This organisation is providing disabled people throughout East Lothain with the opportunity to try out and experience many different outdoor sports that otherwise they would never get the chance to experience. For disabled people, access to the outdoors can be more difficult, which is why the work of BBEL is vital in giving people the opportunity to socialise, build confidence, and participate in the life of the community.
Sadly BBEL is struggling to find the vital funding it needs to sustain the organisation long term. Every council member in East Lothian was invited to a recent AGM to find out more about the organisation but sadly only one turned up. If this organisation is to have a long term future, it must find monies to fund at least one full time post. If disabled people are to play and full and integral part in the wider community, it is vital that politicians and community leader take seriously and recognise the value of disabeld people’s lives.
I am delighted to have asked to be an ambassador for this organisation and hope it continues to grow and provide the opportunities and fun for disabled people that it has.