Grant for equipment helps widen access

Hirst Welfare direct Gail Ballance, gym user Ralph Gibson and Barry Grimes, development relations coordinator at the Banks Group.

Hirst Welfare direct Gail Ballance, gym user Ralph Gibson and Barry Grimes, development relations coordinator at the Banks Group.

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The installation of new gym equipment at a Northumberland sports facility is helping to widen access to older people across the community.

A new treadmill and hand bike have been added to the gym at the Hirst Welfare Centre in Ashington, after it was awarded a £5,000 grant by Banks Mining’s Community Fund.

The new equipment has already helped to attract more than 80 new users who are aged 50 and over into the gym.

And it is also being used to help with the recuperation of people who have suffered brain injuries as part of a partnership between the centre and the Northumberland Brain Injury Service.

Centre director Gail Ballance said: “We wanted to improve the facilities we were able to offer to older people, but wouldn’t have been able to do so without Banks’ assistance and we’re extremely grateful to them.

“The take-up amongst older members of the community for this new kit has been fantastic – many of our new users have done little exercise of this type for a long time, so we’ve developed a number of programmes for them to follow that ensure they’re exercising safely and in ways that are appropriate to their needs.

“The work we’re doing with the Northumberland Brain Injury Service can make a real difference to the recovery of the patients whom they support, and we’re very glad to be providing them with more options around care delivery.”

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, added: “The facilities they provide are clearly having a positive impact on the health and well-being of a wide cross-section of the local population, and we’re very pleased to be able to support their drive to help local residents get fitter and stay healthy.”