Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


Ability Bow is a team of committed individuals supporting people with disabilities and health conditions to get fitter and more independent through prescriptive exercise in our fully accessible gym. Many of the people we work with have had a life-changing event such as a stroke or the diagnosis of a long-term health condition. Last year we provided 7,000 one-to-one sessions and ran 250 group exercise sessions.
Ability Bow members have a wide range of disabilities and health conditions which include diabetes, stroke, heart and lung problems, hypertension, head injuries, spinal injuries, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, visual impairment, mental health problems, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, HIV, and Multiple Sclerosis. These are diagnoses that could happen to anyone of us or our loved ones.

It is known that there are huge benefits to exercise which can prevent or treat many conditions and diseases. However, for most people with disabilities opportunities for exercise and engagement in social contact reduce dramatically and may cease altogether. Ability Bow’s work to prevent this happening is particularly vital in a deprived area such as Tower Hamlets, where there are high levels of long-term illness and early deaths, significantly higher than average. At the same time, surveys measuring participation in sport and recreation show poor levels taken.
The barriers to exercise that disabled people face can include: cessation of rehab services following hospital discharge, lack of motivation due to breakdown of confidence and self-esteem, feeling too out of place to use a mainstream leisure facility, speech/communication problems, physical access problems and unhelpfulness of staff at mainstream leisure facilities.
Reduced mobility often means people may no longer go out, become isolated, they may lose their jobs and they can become depressed, losing all confidence. This downwards spiral can put a huge strain on friends and family relationships. It is our mission to break the barriers down, to overcome the obstacles, and help everyone fulfil their highest potential.

Through Aviva Community Funding the ‘JOIN IN WITH ABILITY BOW!’ project would allow us to work with 60 disabled people and people with long-term health conditions over a 12-month period. We will offer participants exercise, healthy living and routine activities in the local community in order to build confidence by, for example, visiting leisure centres, walking in the park, visiting the library, local shops, or navigating public transport together with a specialist instructor.

Members will see a measurable and long lasting increase in mobility, strength, fitness, co-ordination, balance, flexibility, confidence, exercise uptake, mental wellbeing, social time and motivation, all of which has a positive impact on personal resilience. They will meet other people and share experiences and feelings. 5 disabled people, working as volunteer mentors, will also gain skills and confidence to become community champions, while others will benefit from their support.

Experience tells us that participants will make better lifestyle choices and uptake more exercise in the long term too; last year 87% of service users reported better self-management of their health and 73% were still exercising 6 months after joining.

At the end of the project in 12 months, we will expect participants to: increase activity levels and physical fitness by 70%, report less isolation with improved mental well-being, have 50% fewer visits to NHS services and a 20% reduced level of medication
70% will report increased confidence in their skills and ability to live independently, meaning that approximately 120 family members / unpaid carers will also have a better quality of life with respite from supporting their loved ones in the activities of daily life.

Project Video

Ability Bow

Moment of Pride

Ability Bow has an incredible dedicated team who work with over 400 people each year transforming their lives for the better. The environment is safe, inclusive and the clients show amazing strength and tenacity - small miracles happen every day!

Location: London