02 September 2015, Midlands

Portway Lifestyle Centre helps Tabitha walk again

Portway Lifestyle Centre in Oldbury, West Midlands is helping 32-year old Tabitha Fung rebuild her life following an illness that confined her to a wheelchair for more than a year.

Portway Lifestyle Centre; improving access to health and wellbeing services

In 2014, Tabitha was left paralysed after being struck by a mystery illness, later diagnosed as multiple degenerative changes of the spine. Since joining the gym at Portway Lifestyle Centre at the beginning of the year, she has rebuilt her health and confidence under the guidance of personal trainer Scott Parish.

'Transformed my Life'

“Coming to Portway Lifestyle Centre has transformed my life and is definitely the best thing I could have done.  Whilst other people are doing burpees, lunges and mountain climbers, Scott and the team will find me a range of exercises to work as much of me as possible whilst I’m sitting in my wheelchair. Boxing is my favourite, whether it’s pad work or using the bag,” says Tabitha, who works as a programme administrator for Health Education West Midlands.

Since starting her exercise programme she is back on her feet, and uses a frame to walk around at home. She adds: “I am so grateful I have found Portway Lifestyle Centre as it is a place that is fully adapted and accessible, you’re never made to feel any different because you have a disability, nothing is taken for granted and I can participate in anything I want to.”

Improving standards of healthcare and access to leisure facilities

Portway Lifestyle centre opened in 2013 and offers the people of Sandwell access to improved standards of healthcare and leisure facilities in a specially designed, fit-for-purpose building.

The Centre is the result of a partnership between Sandwell Council, Sandwell Leisure Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and NHS England, Portway Family Practice, Sport England, Sandwell LIFTCo and Community Health Partnerships.

Fully accessible design

Portway has been awarded the top level of the IFI Mark in recognition of its outstanding commitment to inclusion for disabled people, with accessibility features including Changing Places changing facilities, wayfinding tools, easy access walkways and a tactile map.

Services at the centre include:

  • Portway Family Practice GP surgery
  • A four court sports hall
  • Hydrotherapy pool for rehabilitation and child swimming lessons
  • Sensory room
  • Climbing wall
  • Dance studio
  • 114 station fitness suite
  • Full-size all-weather football pitch
  • Large multi-purpose activity hall

I am so grateful I have found Portway Lifestyle Centre - a place that is fully adapted and accessible.

Tabitha Fung, regular user of the Portway Lifestyle Centre