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Cash-strapped Ability Bow therapy gymnasium facing Xmas closure

PUBLISHED: 00:01 17 November 2012

Ability Bow founder Victoria Kent (left) with gym staff and users

Ability Bow founder Victoria Kent (left) with gym staff and users

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A gymnasium treating disabled and injured people with one-to-one therapy has run out of cash and faces closure.

Treadmill exercise for gym user Sarah as threrapy trainer Patrick Trotman monitors herTreadmill exercise for gym user Sarah as threrapy trainer Patrick Trotman monitors her

Hundreds of patients are referred by GPs and hospitals to Ability Bow gym in London’s East End for long-term treatment after serious injury, strokes or chronic illness.

The gym has been running on temporary funding for six months from Tower Hamlets council.

But that cash has run out and now the 400 users face a bleak Christmas if it folds.

“We’ll have no choice but to close if we can’t get funds,” its founding director Victoria Kent told the Advertiser.

“Cutting funds is short-sighted—we save the NHS a fortune with our therapy. Many users are patients who need therapy referred to us from the NHS.”

Ability Bow had an unprecedented three-fold increase in referrals following the summer Paralympics.

But it has already had to make its full-time manager redundant. Other staff cuts could soon follow.

The gym, housed in St Paul’s Church in Old Ford, relied on a contract from the local NHS Primary Care which ran out in March.

The Town Hall then found £50,000—but now that cash has dried up.

Supporters organised a delegation to lobby the East End’s two MPs at Westminster who have since contacted the local health authority.

Rushanara Ali, whose Bethnal Green & Bow constituency includes the gymnasium, was furious at cuts by both Tower Hamlets council and the government.

She said: “It is outrageous that the Mayor’s funding cuts are leaving organisations such as Ability Bow with no choice but to increase fees or close down.

“The Olympic legacy has also been at risk following cuts to Government budgets—so we’ve been running a campaign in Parliament to continue essential services for disabled people provided by these organisations.”

Supporters have set up a Friends of Ability Bow, while continuing to stage their annual fundraising ‘fun’ run in Victoria Park which attracts 1,000 people. It costs £60 to provide a one-to-one therapy session, but the gym charges just £3.50 to make sure it is affordable to all those who need it.


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