In the wake of the Rio Paralympics, the world has never been more attuned to disabled sporting champions.
Yet it’s often taken for granted that we live in a society where everyone, regardless of the circumstances they’re born into, can both reap the rewards and revel in the thrills that sport offers.
Here in Scotland, it’s charities such as FABB (which stands for Facilitating Access and Breaking Barriers) which are the beating heart of the disabled sporting world. Based in Edinburgh, they’ve been co-ordinating adventure-packed weekends for the past 60 years.
We spoke to Emma Close, the inclusion manager, to find out just what FABB means to both staff and those individuals whose lives have been touched by the charity.
“I’ve been with FABB for about eight years now,” says Emma. “I moved over from Northern Ireland with some previous experience working with the disabled, and I thought that it looked like a really energetic charity. It’s open to anyone with additional needs, although we mainly work with people aged 0 – 30 years old.”
“FABB Adventure, where I’m based, is open to anyone aged 15-30. In June of this year, we bought a 30-bed hostel building in Callander for young people with additional needs to come for weekends away. These are made up of sporting activities, which can be anything from water-sports, to cycling, horse-riding or even climbing. It’s a great way to give mums, dads and carers a break.”
Aside from this, weekends away at FABB Adventure often entail other activities such as murder mystery games. For those with a sweeter tooth, there’s Fabb Food; a bake-off inspired competition where participants get to make some tasty treats.
They’ve also recently acquired some adapted bikes, and have set up cycle hubs throughout Scotland, so there’s something to suit everyone.
Emma says: “After the Paralympics I think it’s really great that so many disabled people are getting involved in sport. We’re all about giving people great experiences, challenges and memories, and on top of that it’s social and keeps people fit – and at the end of the day you’ve really made a difference,
“We rely heavily on volunteers, we’ve got a dedicated team of about 50 or so, some of whom have been with us for over 15 years! They’re from all different walks of life, and make up some of the board members alongside many of the team involved in FABB Adventure and other projects throughout Scotland.”
“You don’t need any specific training or experience to get involved – we supply all that through a course specially designed to get volunteers ready to help out in whatever way they can. We’ll be here to help through supervision meetings and overseeing training, and we’re really grateful to everyone who gives up their time to help out. It’d be a lot harder for FABB to survive without their hard work and dedication.”
Reaching 60 years is a significant milestone for any organisation, let alone a charity which is mainly reliant on donations and the goodwill of volunteers.
Emma may have seen only eight of them, but that’s more than enough to provide high spots.
“I’ve met the most amazing, interesting people,” she says. “It does come with its challenges, as being a charity we’re always working to budgets.
“To me the most important thing is to see the difference we make in people’s lives. Being involved in people’s lives, and feeling like you’re really working to make a difference, that’s what makes it for me.”
Want to get involved in FABB? Apply by clicking here