Active Families: Scaling Up our Well-bean Machine

Using ‘Well-Bean’ Machines (fully equipped vans) to deliver an innovative exercise outreach service to streets and neighbourhoods with high densities of vulnerable older people, helping to improve and sustain physical and social activity levels for better health and wellbeing.


Scaling Social Ventures

Lead Organisation

Active Families C.I.C


North East England


Creating healthy Active places, Social Support Connections, Sustaining Physical Activity

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About the project

With the health and wellbeing of our ageing population at an all-time low and pressures ever increasing on the NHS and local government health & social care budgets, Active Families North East have developed an innovative service-based solution dedicated to tackling the health and social inequalities that exist for many vulnerable older people within our region.

We have built on the success and impact of our work during the last 12 months thanks to support through the UKRI Healthy Ageing Social Venture Competition, which also included an independent evaluation from UnLtd’s Healthy Ageing Team. This has helped to not only demonstrate the success and impact of the concept but provide the foundations and insight to assist with scaling up the intervention and roll out an improved version of the intervention across a great geographical footprint.

The Well Bean Machines involve adopting a place-based approach to provide an innovative outreach service to streets and neighbourhoods with high densities of vulnerable older people, many of whom are living in poverty. This includes a multi-faceted approach to the engagement, connection, activation and support of older people with a focus on improving and sustaining physical and social activity levels which ultimately contributes towards having a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

Our mobile well-‘bean’ branded electric vans contain a range of equipment to deliver low intensity exercises, equipment, health assessment tools, fold up seats, wellbeing information packs and a tea/coffee dispensing machine. Having the ability to serve refreshments from the vans is a great way to facilitate discussion and develop social bonds between individuals both before and after taking part in innovative and alternative physical activity sessions.

We will also offer health assessments, provide free resources and information to take away such as our Active Forever DVD, USB sticks, home equipment packs and tea towels with easy to complete exercises printed on them.

The Well Bean Machines will be driven by our highly qualified and empathetic staff that will undertake a door knocking service in the weeks prior to sessions being delivered, talking to older residents, promoting the project and providing guidance and advice in relation to improving health. We will also recruit and train an army of 50 years + community champions that will be encouraged to take ownership of the project, enthusing other older people to engage with the programme, and assist (or eventually lead) sessions after the funding ceases.


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