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Gym set up to tackle poor mental health in plea for new premises

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Sara Hawkins says Projekt 42 has just 10 days to find a new home following the termination of its lease. Based at Newkirkgate in Leith, the facility is used by 3000 members from around Edinburgh.

Hawkins founded the independent charity last year after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2012. It offers a range of classes and services to improve mental wellbeing through fitness.

Last month Hawkins announced funding of £125,000 towards a new permanent home, due to open at the later this year.

But the site is not ready for entry and the Newkirkgate lease will end in less than a fortnight. Hawkins fears a temporary closure could have a harmful impact on some users.

However, she says finding a place to use for just a few months could be a battle due to the space required and the needs of clients. And because so many come from the local area, she is desperate to find an appropriate premises in Leith.

She said: “Due to the volume of users, we require a unit large enough to run fitness classes every day of the week for up to 30 members at a time, with at least one private room we can use for our one-to-one counselling and life-coaching sessions. With the focus on improving mental wellbeing as well as the physical, we also have to bear in mind that the space not only needs to be accessible but is also welcoming for prospective users who might find it more challenging to make the initial approach.”

Appealing for help to find an interim base, Hawkins added: “We are calling on local businesses, property owners and the council to help us find somewhere before our lease ends on August 5. To date we have been focusing our efforts on fundraising for our new home on Halmyre Street.

“However, the curved ball of the lease termination has left us running around to find something suitable that we can use without having to spend thousands of pounds making it fit for purpose, when we only need it for a few months.

“We don’t want to let our members down as there is an extremely strong community spirit at the gym, it offers so much more than just a place to get fit. We focus heavily on supporting people’s mental wellbeing too and want to ensure we can carry this on until Halmyre Street is operational.”

In addition to a gym area, fitness and cycle studios, the permanent site will include family work-out space and offer nutrition and food planning workshops and fitness qualifications for young people.

A new life-coaching programme is also planned.

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