Bristol Active Life Project (BALP)

Bristol Active Life Project (BALP)

Bristol Active Life Project

The Bristol Active Life Project (BALP) offers activity sessions across Bristol for people who have experienced or are living with a long-term mental illness.

BALP leaflet (pdf, 380k) (opens new window)

Find out more about how BALP has made a difference to those living with long-term mental illness.

BALP project evaluation (pdf, 3.8MB) (opens new window)

BALP is a partnership between Bristol City Council, Avon and Wiltshire Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), Sports and Leisure Management Limited, Hengrove Park Leisure Centre and local voluntary sector organisations. It was previously funded by the Football Foundation.

Who is the project for?

Individuals who are currently or have previously been engaged in mental health services and are unable to access mainstream activities due to their mental health.

Find out more about how Bristol Active Life works - watch Luke's story

About the sessions

BALP sessions include: Badminton, Football, Gym based exercise, Walking, Women’s Yoga, Tai Chi, Leagues and Tournaments, and run out of various leisure facilities across Bristol.

All sessions are run by appropriately qualified coaches who have undergone mental health awareness training. Some sessions are also supported by a mental health worker.

See our  BALP activity timetable (pdf, 50k) (opens new window) .(opens new w (pdf, 44k) (opens new window) for more information.

New health walk

Date: Every week Tuesday from 12 April, 2016, 1pm  to 1.45pm
Meeting: Bristol Central Library Café
Address: Bristol Central Library, Deanery Road, City Centre, Bristol, BS1 5TL

The health walk is a 45 minute supported walk in the city for those living with mental health issues with an optional refreshment break at the end.

To be refered onto this BALP walk please speak to your support worker or GP.

The benefits of walking are:

  • improving your mood
  • reducing anxiety
  • improving physical health
  • being social

For further information contact your Support Worker or the Bristol Active Life Project on: 0117 919 5769 or email:

If you're a health worker you can put up our health walk poster in your practice.

Life Cycle UK: 'Bike Minded' Project

BALP partner: Life Cycle UK offer a regular programme of rides and practical help bringing the benefits of cycling to people who are experiencing emotional or mental health problems.

The supported group rides are pitched at different levels - from short and gentle to longer more advanced rides - to enable people of all abilities and fitness levels to participate.

Life Cycle Uk

What are the benefits of exercise?

  • Improves your mental health and wellbeing
  • Improves self-esteem and confidence
  • Lose or manage weight
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk of disease.

How do I access the sessions?

Sessions are by referral only.

You must be referred into these sessions using our BALP open session referral form from one of the following:

  • Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP)*
  • Self-referral: individuals can request a self referral through their GP or support/key worker (must be diagnosed with a severe and enduring mental illness)
  • Voluntary sector agency referral
  • GP referral

*If you are currently under AWP care and would like to access these sessions please contact 0117 919 5769.

Information about the BALP referral process (pdf, 25 KB) (opens new window) (pdf, 25k) (opens new window)

You will also need to apply for an ‘Everyone Active Card’ to access the leisure facilities. These are free and a form can be downloaded in our related documents section, or requested at reception and completed on site.

How much do the sessions cost?

Most sessions cost between £3-£4. Typically most sessions last an hour.

How can I get to the sessions?

To make it easier for you to find travel information please visit the Travel West web site. This site provides links to all the main methods of transport in Bristol and surrounding areas.

Dial-a-ride. A door-to-door bus service is also available for any person if they cannot or find it difficult to use public transport due to mobility or communication impairment. The service costs roughly the same as public transport and accepts concessionary bus passes/travelcards.

BALP - nutrition form

For service users engaged with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) and looking for support and advice with healthy eating, therapeutic diets (for example coeliac disease and type 2 diabetes), recovery from an eating disorder and guidance around food choices to prevent disease and ill health, it is now possible to be referred for support from the Nutrition and Dietetics team. A referral will need to come from your Care Coordinator email to request support.

Code of conduct

Please download the BALP code of conduct below. This must be read by all participants and referrers prior to enrolling on the project.


We welcome volunteer support for our activities. If you enjoy physical activity and meeting people, please email us:

We are particularly looking for volunteer Walk Leaders.

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BALP on Twitter