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Well Rounded

Fighting Against Wealth Disparity with Fitness Accessibility

MA 2023
Wealth Disparity, Fitness, Sports, Community Building, Relationships

The majority of Londoners care about wealth inequality, but few know how to tackle it and doubt that their small contributions can have an impact. Meanwhile, those who are struggling financially do agree that while the British welfare system does take care of their basic needs (such as food and shelter), there are other non-essential needs that have been given up in the presence of financial insecurity. This is the case for fitness. Lack of access to fitness activities in one's local neighbourhood can contribute to the isolation of the elderly and the loitering of teenagers, but more importantly, it decreases the number of weak ties in one's personal network. Well Rounded is a charitable initiative that aims to give equal access to fitness while letting affluent residents lead the fight against wealth inequality in their neighbourhoods.

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Notting Hill is a hallmark example of gentrification. The rise in rent and illegal evictions over the past 50 years has pushed its original residents into the council houses that they occupy today. Golborne and Notting Dale have become the most deprived neighbourhoods in Kensington & Chelsea and sometimes the rest of London. The new residents do have the desire to help their neighbours in need but are largely unaware of the disparities in their town. If there are unmet needs that the less affluent community has, and a desire to help by the affluent community, what would the less affluent community want that they don't currently have now? That would be fitness, exercise, and access to physical well-being.

86% of Londoners think that wealth disparity is an urgent issue. Around 50% said they feel compelled to help a neighbour in need if they lacked access to social/physical well-being.


Weak Ties

Fitness accessibility is not only important for physical and psychological well-being, but it also helps to prevent the isolation of residents and increase their number of Weak Ties. Having more opportunities and reasons for the community to meet and mingle in non-exclusive spaces is essential to lessening the wealth disparity in Notting Hill. The Strength of Weak Ties - "Infrequent, arms-length relationships – known as weak ties – are more beneficial for employment opportunities, promotions, and wages than strong ties". (Brynjolfsson, 2022)


The existing methods to make fitness more accessible to locals are ineffective. For example, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea partnered with Better Gym to create discounts for day passes to certain activities, however, the cost of two or three activities is equivalent to a one-month membership that includes those same activities. This initiative is suboptimal.

Westway Trust has partnered with Everyone Active in providing £30,000 worth of gym memberships for the year to residents, and it is evident that Notting Hill residents are interested in receiving these benefits, as the waiting list is a few years long.

Relative Poverty

Similar to Adam Smith's "Linen Shirt" analogy, there are certain non-essential activities or items we must possess in order to lead a dignified life. The current welfare system does not cater to things that are non-essential to one's survival. 

During interviews with 5 people on universal credit, the interviewees mentioned that if they could spend money on themselves, it would be towards fitness, exercise, physical and mental well-being, and leisure activities with family members.

Increasing the number of weak ties someone has can substantially decrease wealth inequality over time

Montgomery, 1994


Well Rounded is on a mission to create equal access to fitness for everyone in the neighbourhood while letting residents lead the fight against wealth disparity.

Businesses collect micro-donations of £1 from customers at the till. The money from those businesses comes into Well Rounded's account which is topped up with Gift Aid. Meanwhile, Well Rounded builds a selection of month-long fitness activities alongside the participating businesses that anyone can sign up for on the website. These are things like yoga, gym memberships, football practice, and so on. The qualifying Well Rounded Neighbours will get a bursary to attend for free, and Well Rounded pays the participating business directly with the donated funds. The funds can also be used to fund training and certificates for individuals who aspire to a career in fitness and sports.


38% - Results from a ballot box and flyer I left at the reception of 1 gym indicated that 38% of 44 respondents would be willing to donate

81% - In a survey of 61 respondents, 81% of residents would be willing to donate every now and then at local shops

3/5 - 3 out of 5 businesses I contacted said they would be willing to collect donations with no benefit to themselves

1/1* - Special arrangements need to be made with the gym I interviewed, as they have an existing system for collecting donations.

Impact - Based on early adoption results from gyms alone, £10,000 can be raised to help 330 people access fitness activities for the month across Kensington & Chelsea.

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