Bristol Active Life Project (BALP)

Bristol Active Life Project (BALP)

How physical activity can help people with mental health illness, what activities they can do, how to refer someone to BALP.

The Bristol Active Life Project (BALP) offers physical activity sessions for people who have experienced or are living with a long term mental illness and are receiving AWP secondary mental health services in Bristol.
Physical activity can help people

  • improve mental health and wellbeing 
  • lift mood and help them feel better
  • improve physical health
  • reduce anxiety
  • increase energy levels
  • manage weight
  • improve quality of sleep
  • reduce the risk of developing long term conditions like diabetes or heart disease
  • have fun and meet new people

What activities are available

The activities available are:

  • badminton
  • football
  • walking
  • tennis
  • BoxFit (boxing fitness)

On the programme, people can also get advice and help with healthy eating and managing weight.

People get the most benefit from the sessions by going regularly.

Where the sessions are available

There are sessions at

  • Horfield Leisure Centre
  • Kingsdown Sports Centre
  • Easton Leisure Centre
  • St Paul’s Community Sports Academy
  • Hengrove Park Leisure Centre
  • Bristol Harbourside
  • Knowle Tennis Club
  • Bristol Boxing Gym

Most sessions are for an hour. The first session is free. After that, each session at a leisure centre costs between £3 and £4. There’s no cost for the walking sessions.

How to access the sessions

These sessions are by referral only.

You can refer a person if they are getting mental health care from an AWP care coordinator or AWP support worker. You can contact the BALP team at or call 0117 919 5774 if you’ve got any questions.

If you’re not receiving mental health care from AWP

If you’re not receiving mental health secondary care from AWP, your GP or health care professional can refer you to the Physical Activity Referral Scheme. This scheme is available at Horfield, Henbury, Easton, Kingsdown, Hengrove Park and Bristol Brunel (BBA) leisure centres.

Getting to a session

You can find travel information on getting around Bristol on the Travel West website

A door-to-door bus service, called Dial-a-ride, is also available for anyone who finds it difficult to use public transport due to mobility or communication impairments. The service costs about the same as public transport and you can use your concessionary bus pass or travel card if you have one.

Support at the sessions

A family member, friend, carer or mental health support worker can go with you if you need support. 

All the sessions are run by physical activity specialists and supported by AWP mental health staff.

If you can't attend a session,  contact the BALP team at or call 0117 919 5774.