Save Inner London's only Disability Gym
Ability Bow is the only place in inner London that provides long term rehabilitation to help people who have a disability, an injury or a long-term health condition. For many it is be a life-changing experience, regaining the ability to walk or to look after themselves without constant care and support from others. Due to a lack of funding their core service of long term rehabilitation has had to shut down. 60% of people referred there went on to need that service. There is currently bare bones access for people physically able to exercise independently but for those most in need the gym has already shut it's doors.
Most "accessible" gyms are just step free, few have specialist machines or appropriately trained staff to help with complex medical conditions. This is the only truly inclusive gym that would help no matter how severe your disability. No other place offered subsidized, one to one, individually tailored, long term assistance and rehabilitation. Margaret and Witman are stroke survivors who regained full use of their bodies after doctors wrote them off. Albert had a spine broken in two places and learned to walk again. Shona avoided Gastric Band surgery. I had muscular dystrophy and extended how long I could still walk. There are thousands of people that Ability Bow has helped over the last 10 years. There is waiting list more than a hundred people long. Demand has increased while funding has actually reduced. The gym has had to make half their staff redundant and cut the long term rehabilitation service.
My name is Richard and I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy when I was 19 and I now use a wheelchair. My muscles break down over time and lose strength and flexibility. I have to do lots of low level exercise to slow the progression of my illness, prevent heart problems and manage pain. It takes me an hour and a half to get there but I always go no matter the weather or how exhausting it is. The specialist equipment is unaffordable for individuals to own. I do not know where I would be without this place. I started this campaign to raise awareness and make sure that people get the help they need to improve their lives.
The gym has comprehensive programs for dealing with Stroke, MS, Heart Conditions, Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, sensory impairments, age related illnesses, mental health issues and more. People with preexisting medical conditions are a lot more vulnerable to complications without exercise that could cost them their lives. There are lots of services for healthy people but as soon as you have a complex need and are at higher risk there is significantly less opportunity to exercise. Active people need less medication, see doctors less, relapse less, have fewer falls, fewer fractures and are more likely to go back to work. Active people use the NHS far less, this charity gym saves the state money. Treating the complications will cost the NHS a lot more than funding a gym to prevent them in the first place.
We are asking for the assistance of a government partner to safeguard the future of this vital service. The gym has a small efficient structure which means that the majority of the money raised goes directly to the people who need it. Two thirds of their funding they generate themselves through marathons, donations and memberships. Allowing this service to be destroyed is economically unsound as well as a morally disgraceful. Until we save this service vulnerable disabled people will have no access to exercise, they will remain isolated in their homes, with little hope of improvement, and increasingly reliant upon their GPs, hospitals and the social services.
We need help from anyone who can offer it. Please sign the petition, share the link, write to your MP, contact disability organisations, tweet every Olympian or celebrity who might care. Join the Facebook group "Save Ability Bow" for updates, info and assistance on getting more involved. You can also add me on Twitter @DJ_Paperwork. #SaveAbilityBow
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/SaveAbilityBow
38 Degrees Petition shortlink : https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/abg
Ability Bow Stories :http://www.abilitybow.org/story-wall