Older east Londoners stay connected as new funding boosts service

A ‘life-changing’ service which provides free exercise, social activities and creative sessions for older people in east London has been saved thanks to new funding.

The Active and Connected 65+ project, which has been run by the East Ham-based Bonny Downs Community Association for 20 years, was facing financial pressure as its previous funding was due to run out.

Now, the service, which helps hundreds of older Newham residents every year, will continue for at least another two years thanks to a £72,000 grant from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

“Getting out, getting active and meeting people has life-changing benefits for older people and is something many will have missed greatly during the Covid pandemic.

“We’re delighted our funding means this service, which has helped many hundreds of east Londoners over the last 20 years, can continue to help improve the health and quality of life of older people.”

Activities funded through the City Bridge Trust grant include weekly exercise classes, social activities such as ‘arts and darts’ sessions, one-to-one telephone support and regular outings including dances.

The charity, based at The Well Community Centre in Vicarage Lane, also provides older people with a befriending service and support on issues such as bereavement, transport and housing.

Bonny Downs Community Association Director of Fundraising Jess Craig said:

“Our members tell us the sessions help them improve their physical health and stay fit, but more than that, it enables them to contribute to the community and feel part of the life of their neighbourhood.

“Without the extra funding there was a real risk to this project’s future, leaving a lot of older people with nothing to do, so it will make a big difference to people’s lives.”

More information about Bonny Downs Community Association is available online at bonnydowns.org or by calling 0208 586 7070.

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study: ‘I’m a stronger person now’

Margaret, 55, from Plaistow, was born in and has lived in the London Borough of Newham all her life.

She lives alone and was referred to Bonny Downs by a frontline professional who knew she had suffered with depression and anxiety in the past.

Since coming to the centre, she has benefited from its befriending service and enjoyed yoga, exercise and coffee mornings. She has also learned how to use Zoom to connect online, with the help of the team.

She said: “I was so isolated and insecure before but I’m a stronger person now. I like attending the community centre and have made many friends. It helps me physically and mentally.”

Picture captions

(1) Bonny Downs Community Association member Lorraine takes part in chair-based exercise sessions

(2) chair-based exercise sessions at Bonny Downs

(3) afternoon tea at Bonny Downs

(4) music and movement class

- City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge Houses Estates, a charity founded in 1097 to maintain London Bridge, and Members of its Court of Common Council form the Bridge House Estates Board.

Bridge House Estates is now responsible for maintaining Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars Bridges, and its grants team, City Bridge Trust – founded in 1995 – gives out over £25 million a year to good causes across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

About Bonny Downs Community Association

BDCA is a dynamic community-led charity that has been serving the residents of the London Borough of Newham since 1998. We support a diverse cross-section of our local community, working with people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.

We have a positive impact on local lives through a wide range of services and activities designed to bring people together and provide opportunities to connect with neighbours; improve their health and wellbeing; access the support they need; learn new skills; give back to their community; and celebrate life – bonnydowns.org


Tim Fletcher | Media officer – public services

City of London Corporation

07738 862229 | tim.fletcher@cityoflondon.gov.uk