North East Connected

Well Bean Machine Moves Up a Gear with £360k Funding


Health-led community organisation Active Families North East has been awarded £363,307 from UK Research and Innovation’s Healthy Ageing Challenge to roll out its innovative Well Bean Machine program to over 20,000 older people across Gateshead and South Shields.

The only program to receive funding in the North East, the 10-strong team has already invested in two electric vehicles and recruited a further four staff members to help the company implement its successful behavioural change model.

The Well Bean machine’s pilot scheme in Sunderland has already engaged with over 10,000 people, providing on-street fitness classes and activities, fun opportunities for social interaction and vital signposting services.

Amy Swan Director of Active Families North East, said: “We’re overjoyed to have the support of UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge and are delighted that they’re as passionate as we are about the benefits of the Well Bean Machine.

“We’ve definitely had even more of a spring in our step after hearing about the funding, however the real joy for us comes when we see older residents interacting, laughing and taking part in activities that ultimately help them to stay active and age healthily.

“We’re going to be hitting the streets of South Shields and Gateshead very soon so keep a lookout on our social media channels for where we’ll be visiting next.”

In addition to the fitness activities offered by the Well Bean Machine, Active Families North East will be offering health assessments, recipe cards, a local newsletter and also equipment packs with ‘at-home’ exercises to try.

George MacGinnis, UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, said: “Active Families are a fantastic example of a social enterprise that is making a tangible difference to people’s lives by reaching directly into communities where it is most needed. Their innovative service has created a winning formula for enticing people not normally inclined to exercise to get healthy and active. 

“At the same time they provide access to vital social connections and further sources of community support. The exciting aspect for us is the potential to scale this successful enterprise to reach many more communities across the country.”

To find out more about Active Families and where the Well Bean Machine will be pulling up to next, visit:

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