Open Collective
Open Collective

Chair Disco

Fiscal Host: Accountable

Empowering disadvantaged groups through movement


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by Anne-Marie Payne

-£68.40 GBP
Invoice #90878
-£2.99 GBP
Receipt #90877
-£300.00 GBP
Invoice #90843
Today’s balance

£458.00 GBP

Total raised

£1,000.00 GBP

Total disbursed

£542.00 GBP

Estimated annual budget

£1,000.00 GBP


CHAIR DISCO = battling isolation through age-inclusive, anti-fatphobic, shame-free seated aerobics.

Once described as ‘the most fun you can have while sitting down’ our sessions take place around Hackney, East London. The emphasis is on community-building and social engagement rather than dazzling choreo and perfect form: classes bring together participants with limited mobility, neurodiverse individuals; those recovering from or living with chronic illness and people new to exercise.

Desired outcomes
are improvements in self-reported mental wellbeing and numbers of social connections rather than inch reduction or higher numbers of reps, though participants do report increases in the size of their pain-free range of motion over time, as well as elevations in mood and decreased anxiety and feelings of loneliness.

Partnership working
is key to the success of our project. In the post-pandemic landscape we are pairing movement sessions with community lunches run by local third sector organisations, so that the friendships made while dancing can be sealed over a shared meal.

Our third sector partners found that Hackney residents who were elderly or shielding suffered both increased isolation and decreased access to their usual social and physical activities during the lockdowns. There was a decrease in strength and balance activities, and some residents reported a loss of ability to complete activities of daily life (bending to tie shoes, looking over one’s shoulder, standing up unaided from a chair or toilet).

Reaching the least active residents:
Of course, some of the least active, hardest to reach people in society are unlikely to attend an exerise without a serious incentive anyway! Our partners felt that individuals such as these might need a ‘nudge’ towards participating in an exercise class, and that putting the class before a community meal might be the perfect way to encourage reluctant residents to join. 

Co-production: As well as partnership working, co-production is woven into our delivery. We believe that older people and movement facilitators should work together to create opportunities and solve problems.

Lived experience:
One of the admins for the Chair Disco collective is a 68-year old individual who is a stroke survivor; she lives with nerve damage and a foot drop, and uses a mobility scooter to help her get around. She reviews session plans, suggests modifications and provides tech support during online classes. She helps to ensure that classes, publicity materials and venues are accessible to older, mobility-impaired and disabled people. Our other members live with chronic illness, mobility impairment and mental health issues - working as a collective helps keep our sessions accessible to all.

Behaviour change:
The success - or otherwise - of the Chair Disco project will be evaluated by looking at actual changes in older people’s lives, and service user involvement in every stage of the project, from planning to evaluation, helps keep us on track towards this. 

As we emerge from the pandemic there is - even more than usual - a need for the kind of unintimidating, welcoming, inclusive movement sessions offered by the Chair Disco collective. We are currently seeking new grant funding in order to continue to offer these classes to Hackney residents for free, to help them regain their confidence, strength and dignity after the tribulations of the last two years.

Further funding:
Please contact us if you can recommend a funding source or sponsor, or would like to refer an individual into our service. 

Our team