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Coronavirus fear shuts Ability Bow therapy gym

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:13 17 March 2020

Bow's unique therapy gymnasium holding its sessions at St Paul's Old Ford in St Stephen's Road. Picture: Ability Bow

Bow's unique therapy gymnasium holding its sessions at St Paul's Old Ford in St Stephen's Road. Picture: Ability Bow

Ability Bow

All specialist exercise treatment has been suspended at Ability Bow therapy gymnasium because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Getting to grips with therapy at Ability Bow... but now the unique service has been suspended over coronavirus precautions. Picture: Ability BowGetting to grips with therapy at Ability Bow... but now the unique service has been suspended over coronavirus precautions. Picture: Ability Bow

East London’s unique therapy gym, set up in St Paul’s Old Ford parish church by Victoria Kent, has been struggling to keep going with voluntary donations ever since its public funding ended in 2007.

But now this latest crisis has effectively put the recovery centre for those with specialist physical therapy needs out of action.

“We have suspended our specialist disabilities exercise services to support delaying the spread of Covid-19 virus,” the gymnasium said today in a statement to the East London Advertiser.

Victoria Kent... founder of Ability Bow now facing yet another crisis. Picture: Mike BrookeVictoria Kent... founder of Ability Bow now facing yet another crisis. Picture: Mike Brooke

“Some new actions that will help the ‘delay strategy’ is now being recommended by Public Health England.

“This means there will be no gym or exercise services here or at our community group classes until further notice.”

Some people with disabilities, including members, volunteers and staff at the gym, also have health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other conditions which makes them vulnerable to infection.

Wellwisher Shakil Miah running the London Marathon for much-needed cash for Ability Bow... but now that funsraising facility is in jeopardy itself this year. Picture: Ability BowWellwisher Shakil Miah running the London Marathon for much-needed cash for Ability Bow... but now that funsraising facility is in jeopardy itself this year. Picture: Ability Bow

So the gym aims to protect “all people who may be more vulnerable to serious illness if they were to contract Covid-19”.

The situation is being examined on a week-by-week basis and the gym aims to reopen and its exercise referral service “as soon as possible”.

New referrals from GPs and hospitals in the meantime are still being accepted, the gym assures.

But all assessments are being carried out over the phone, while an alternative ‘remote’ service is being offered.

Ability Bow has had to rely on voluntary fundraising to keep its essential therapy service going, with volunteers running to attract cash in events like the London Marathon and its annual Victoria Park fun run.

But the 2020 London Marathon due to run next month, ironically, has now been scrapped, while next autumn’s Vicky Park fun run could also be in jeopardy, both having a knock-on effect for the gymnasium’s long-term funding.


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