When can I ski again?

An Update from the CEO

Good afternoon,

It's been a while since we last had an opportunity to come up for air and share what's been keeping us so busy. We're currently in the process of preparing next year's budget and to say it's challenging is an understatement. We are forecasting significant reductions in income from fundraising and snowsport delivery, but are determined to continue to deliver our mission; to make snowsports accessible for everyone, regardless of disability, injury, or experience. Whilst we take on this challenge I wanted to take a moment to update you on some of the challenges that we have been able to overcome so far, and to try and explain as far as possible how and when we are working towards reopening our snowsport schools.

When will I be able to ski/snowboard again?

As lockdown is easing across the UK and leisure centres/indoor facilities are reopening, our skiers, snowboarders, staff and volunteers are understandably excited to get back to the slopes.

Since the closure of our adaptive snowsport schools in April, we have been working hard to prepare for their reopening. This has been a massive undertaking as we liaise and negotiate with dozens of partners whilst all of us having to best-guess what a new future might look like.  

We should also remember that even though parts of the economy are being reopened and restrictions are (for the most part) easing, Covid-19 remains a real and present risk. The pandemic is not over. At its simplest, Covid-19 presents a new set of risks and challenges for us to manage, but DSUK has an established history of managing risk and ensuring that disabled people can access the unique physical and mental health benefits of snowsport.

We are aiming to begin delivering lessons again at most schools at some point in September (subject to centre’s being open and any local restrictions). This blog aims to share our progress so far and why we’re unable to simply offer a specific date for each school at this point.

What have we done so far?

1.     Strategised

After coming in to post in July 2018 I was tasked with developing our new three-year strategy. This was originally set to guide the business from October 2019 through to September2021.  As part of developing a strategy I usually conduct a PESTLE analysis. This maps the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors that the business will be operating in, and enables us to take advantage of the opportunities that they present and be mindful of any risks. (For example, we were able to forecast the potential work permit impact of the UK leaving the EU and plan accordingly, thereby minimising any business disruption as much as possible).

Covid-19 has dramatically changed all aspects of the PESTLE environments that we operate in and so it was important to develop a new strategy. We have developed a new interim strategy that aims to see us through the next 12 month period, when we will then be better placed to plan longer term. I will provide an update on the new strategy separately but it’s primary aim is to ensure that disabled people can continue to access snowsport.

2.     Restructured

Once the new strategy was agreed it was important to ensure that the organisation was best placed to deliver it's aims. To do this we have introduced a new organisational structure that has reshaped the Senior Management Team, introduced new roles, and consolidated other areas of the business.

This change was important in improving DSUK’s ability to manage the increased risks that Covid-19 presents; namely the health, safety and financial risks. It also enables DSUK to take advantage of new opportunities including new marketing opportunities, on-snow activities, fundraising opportunities, and membership offers. A further advantage of the restructure was its benefit to colleagues. We hope to have increased the opportunity for staff to focus on one specific business area/challenge/opportunity, and also create a clearer career progression pathway within DSUK. I’m pleased to be able to share that we were able to restructure the business without making any mandatory redundancies and I’d like to once again extend my sincere thanks to the staff team for their understanding, flexibility, and commitment throughout this process.

3.     Formed a Skier and Snowboarder Involvement Group

In order to increase the involvement of disabled skiers and snowboarders in organisational decision making, we have established the Skiers and Snowboarders Involvement Group (SSIG). Co-chaired by Josh McDonagh (mono-skier, Hemel Hempstead) and I, the group has supported the development of the interim strategy and will continue to play a role in DSUK’s planning and delivery of services. If you are interested in joining the SSIG, please email hello@disabilitysnowsport.org.uk

4.    Revised Health and Safety

With the generous support of Project Health and Safety Consulting, we have re-written all of our Health and Safety policies and practices and are in the process of training all staff and volunteers on our new policy, processes and procedures. This significant piece of work will enable us to identify and record the new hazards and risks that Covid-19 presents along with how we are managing those risks. We are currently working to our three-phase, 15-point implementation plan which ensures that we are reopening our schools during the pandemic as safely as possible.

5.     Raised emergency survival funds

You will have seen our Urgent Appeal, and maybe even supported us through it. Sincerely, Thank you! Our new financial year starts in October and it’s going to be an incredibly challenging one, but thanks to those of you who were able to share and/or donate to our appeal, we are still here to face it. Along with launching the urgent appeal, we have also held a raffle and supported volunteers to help raise funds for DSUK. You may have read that we have renewed our Lottery programme and are currently refreshing our Membership programme to ensure that our Members are prioritised in the allocation of what we forecast to be reduced resources. Fundraising will remain incredibly difficult in the year ahead and we welcome all of your ideas for how you think we could be raising funds!

6.     Worked with partners

Our partners, including our host slopes have been busy planning too. We have been having regular meetings with them all, as well as with the CEOs of the Home Nations (Snowsport England, Snowsport Scotland, Snowsport Wales), Ski Club of Great Britain, GB Snowsport, and BASI.

Every centre has different plans and new processes in place, or are in the process of developing them. We are busy adapting our operating procedures at each site as each centre finalises their operating procedures.

7.     Liased with new sites

We are aiming to open new adaptive snowsport schools on suitable dry slopes across the UK. This would provide more local and affordable access to snowsport for some of our skiers and snowboarders. It also provides an opportunity to enjoy snowsport in the fresh air at a time when we're all more conscious of the air we breath.

This aim to expand our provision at a time when many businesses are contracting is ambitious, but if we achieve the fundraising target set out in our urgent appeal, we expect to be able to open our first new outdoor centre in by October.

So, when can I ski/snowboard again?

The Senior Team are working to a Roadmap to Reopen document. This document sets out the steps needed to reopen each school. Some of these steps are within the control of DSUK, others are not. This means that each centre is likely to reopen at a different time. When centres do re-open, we will need to discuss how the new operating procedures will impact each customer individually and assess whether it is safe for you to return yet.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as welcoming back all stand up skiers as soon as we’re able to, for example. It is likely that stand-up skiers will need to be able to stand themselves back up on the slope if they fall, or, have a skiing/snowboarding family member/friend from the same household who can assist them.

If you are interested in returning to skiing/snowboarding as soon as you are able to, please contact the office to register your interest. We will then call you to discuss your return ahead of opening the phonelines for bookings.

Erm, what about Holidays?!

Thank you to those of you who took the time to respond to our Holiday survey. An incredible 90% of respondents said that they are hoping to join a DSUK Holiday in 2021. Because of this we are aiming to run a holiday programme next season, although they may look slightly different to previous years. I will share an update on this next week :).

I look forward to skiing you soon,


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When can I ski again?