Leith charity gym in desperate plea for new home

Sara Hawkins of Project 42 in Leith
Sara Hawkins of Project 42 in Leith
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A charity gym in Leith which tackles poor mental health is on the brink of homelessness as founders race against time to find new premises.

Projekt 42 gym has amassed nearly 3,000 members who regularly use the facilities since they launched in 2017 and are now reaching out to local businesses, property owners and the council to help find somewhere before the lease ends on August 5.

A large proportion of the gym-goers are based in Leith and Projekt 42 hopes to find a suitable unit in the area until its new purpose-built community gym and wellness centre opens at the end of the year.

But founder Sara Hawkins has only nine days until the lease terminates on the Newkirkgate building to somewhere that fits the bill.

“Recently 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 – 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.”

The not-for-profit gym aims to make exercise accessible and affordable for everyone. It was established by Sara following her own battle with mental health and has a particular focus on breaking down barriers for people suffering from mental health.

Sara explained that limiting barriers for people was fundamental to what they try to achieve and any temporary premise with easy access would help eradicate isolating members.

She said: “People can turn straight around again if there are any additional barriers put between them and coming in. Having a facility that is front facing, so that as soon as you open the door and see what’s going on, is really important for people with fear or anxiety.

“The perception of what is behind doors can sometimes prevent people from coming in so being visible is really important to us.”

With limited options Sara has reached out to Drum Property Group which owns units along Stead’s Place that are set for development in the next few years.

“The former Barnardos shop is perfect for us – it’s the perfect location, only a stones throw away and is currently empty. It would be a very short-term option until we move into the newly built gym at the end of the year.”

A spokesman for Drum Property Group said: “We are not considering any temporary uses of units as we are preparing the whole site for redevelopment. The industrial site which sits immediately behind the shop frontages will be empty by the end of August, and the offices above will be empty by the end of September.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk