A specialised gym that serves hundreds of people suffering with long-term illnesses and injuries faces closure if it fails to find funding.
Ability Bow, Tower Hamlets, was put under threat when its contract with the NHS, which made up 40 per cent of its budget, ended in March.
Although they were under no obligation, Tower Hamlets Council awarded £50,000 to help ensure it stayed open. However, The centre has now run out of money and may be forced to close.
The facility has 400 disabled and injured users who receive one-to-one therapy after being referred by hospitals and GPs.
Victoria Kent, the founder and Chief Executive of Ability Bow, told Eastlondonlines that the situation for local people was ‘dire’.
She said: “Our funding came from a statutory contract that made up 40 per cent of our income, so we’re having to make drastic cuts.
“We provide a unique service, and what creates such a significant impact is the one-to-one aspect, so if we’re unable to deal with that it questions the viability of our service.”
Kent said it is in the NHS’s interest to keep Ability Bow open. She said: “We’re helping people become independent and need to use NHS services less.”
Kent also added that the Paralympics had inspired more people to be referred to their gym after seeing the possibilities and benefits of exercise to disability and long-term needs, but that they are still on a waiting list due to the cuts.
The gym is specially designed so that every piece of equipment is accessible for its users.
Joanne Mak, a physiotherapist at St. Leonard’s hospital, called the centre a “key collaboration partner and a key player in enabling our clients through self-management. It is the only satisfactory gym for its accessibility”.
Located on the third floor of St. Paul’s Church in Old Ford, the gym gives the appearance of being an upturned boat, complete with portholes.