Edinburgh gym and mental health charity Projekt 42 to close its doors this June due to funding and space issues

An Edinburgh charity which provides mental health counselling alongside a plethora of fitness classes has been forced to close its doors this summer due to a lack of long-term funding and available commercial spaces.

Projekt 42 is being forced to close in June
Projekt 42 is being forced to close in June

Leith based charity, Projekt 42 (P42), has provided free and low cost counselling to the Edinburgh community for the last five years, using gym memberships to fund mental health counselling for people who are unable to afford it.

The popular community enterprise which launched in 2017 was forced to make the difficult decision to temporarily cease operations this June so they can redesign their model to be less reliant on short term funding, with P42 founder Sara Hawkins having said that self sufficiency lies at the heart of the well-loved organisation’s ethos.

Speaking to the Edinburgh Evening News, Sara said closing the charity was, “the right decision.”

Projekt 42 is being forced to close next month

“While I know some of our community members will be sad to hear this news, change can bring about the most positive outcomes.”

She added: “Even if things look challenging and with so many unknowns, I am confident I'll be able to design a new social enterprise that generates the income we need to fund once again thousands of hours of free and low-cost counselling.”

The charity which currently operates out of Ocean Terminal was forced to vacate its well attended gym on Leith Walk in November 2020 due to structural damage of the roof, making many of their “income-generating activities” unavailable.

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Last year it provided 5,360 free and low cost counselling sessions and currently provides 400 hours of counselling support a week. The charity also hosts a range of fitness classes including circuit training and yoga classes with a special program that serves the elderly community which includes chair yoga and strength and balance classes.

Ms Hawkins said: “We don’t have any way of making any money right now, the gym effectively funded all of our activities. Whilst we are a registered charity, we’ve never really behaved like one. We always had our own activities that funded our charity.

“Prior to being reliant on funding we could commit to work with someone for one or two years if that’s what it took to get them back on their feet.

“But with quite a lot of funding opportunities, they expect you to work with an individual within one to twelve weeks and it doesn’t really fit with the concept of Projekt 42.”

Since the announcement yesterday, P42 members have taken to social media to express their support for the beloved charity, with the hope that the closure will only be temporary.

One said: “Your service has been fantastic for Leith. There’s been nothing quite like it. Thanks for the classes and I hope a final reprieve for such a successful project."

Another said: “I hope you find a way to continue to provide much needed services”, adding, “thanks for everything you have done.”

Charity founder, Sara is hopeful that remoulding the business model will see a return of Projekt 42, telling the Evening News: “The core of what we do is to make sustainable changes and pay for it ourselves. That’s the crux of why we are choosing to pause now.

“We have to energise ourselves again to keep meeting these community needs. As a team we always adapt and we keep driving forward to try and make as much community benefits and change people’s lives as much as we can.”