Crisis-hit Ability Bow therapy gym gets £98,000 rescue from City of London Bridge Trust

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym - Credit: Ability Bow

A charity-run therapy gym facing a financial crisis in its fight to help the disabled of east London has just landed a £98,000 windfall to expand its much-needed services.

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym - Credit: Ability Bow

Ability Bow gymnasium had to lay off half its therapists while struggling since October when project funding from Tower Hamlets GPs commissioning group stopped.

Now the charity helping people with disabilities and long-term illness to exercise through treatment and one-to-one sessions has learned today that it is getting the cash from the City of London’s Bridge Trust.

“This means we can help disabled people to become fitter, more independent and self-confident,” Ability Bow founder Victoria Kent said.

“We are now able to set up social groups and develop our work in a way that we would not be able to. Helping people to exercise builds their strength and has a positive impact on their personal resilience to take part in everyday life.”

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym - Credit: Ability Bow


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The gym at St Paul’s Old Ford parish church, near Roman Road Market, has come close to closing more than once since its first funding crisis 10 years ago.

But now the City’s Bridge Trust has recognised its unique community service.

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Bridge Trust chairman Alison Gowman said: “Ability Bow’s vitally important work has already helped so many people with disabilities in east London to gain more independence, increase their fitness levels and improve general wellbeing.

“Exercise releases endorphins which make a difference to personal wellbeing and mood, while sport also increases confidence and energy levels.”

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym

Getting to grips with theraputic physical exercise at Ability Bow gym - Credit: Ability Bow

The grant is to expand service to people unable to get to the gym by running weekly outreach classes in Tower Hamlets community venues and in neighbouring Hackney, as well as to hold exercise workshops and setting up a new social club.

The gym subsidises fees for those needing their services, charging just £4 a session with one-to-one professional therapy rather than the full £60 commercial rate, the difference coming from grants and voluntary fundraising.

But it struggles to make ends meet, despite help from Tower Hamlets council and Hackney GPs.

It gets nothing from Tower Hamlets GP commissioning group, even though 75 per cent of therapy referrals at the gym come from their members.

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