This is a story about one woman’s quest to provide a safe and happy space for the community of Skelton-in-Cleveland. Having worked in the local community for a number of years, Karen Winspear, who specialises in SEN fitness and wellbeing, began exploring the idea of a purpose-built venue open to everyone who wouldn’t normally use a gym. An inclusive space where everyone is welcome; a safe space for people who often get forgotten about when it comes to fitness; people with SEN disabilities, Down’s Syndrome or Dementia, for example.
The more Karen researched the project, the more she understood there was a huge gap in the market for wellness and wellbeing not only for people living with disabilities, but for their carers, care workers, siblings and families. She realised that with a fit-for-purpose, dedicated venue she would be able to offer a constant, regular programme of activities so urgently needed.
In March last year, Karen began raising funds to build Senses Wellbeing Centre. After her National Lottery Fund application was rejected, she turned to the local community and through an enormous amount of hard work and good will enough funds were raised to start building. A local builder was engaged, materials were bought and paid for, contractors lined up, but no sooner had the project got started when the Coronavirus struck, and lockdown was imposed. Work ground to a halt as the whole country shut down.
Then once again, Karen experienced how the community around her pulled together, sharing her determination and willing the project forward. Her team of builders were able to work in a safe manner following social distancing regulations and the build started to take shape. Nearing completion, the building was ready to have the flooring installed. Having already bought the floor, a sprung wood floor from Junckers, and engaged a professional fitter to install it, Karen rang the company to arrange delivery and set a date. Unanswered phone call after unanswered phone call and countless unreturned messages later, Karen discovered the company had gone into receivership, taking the flooring for Senses Wellbeing Centre and the fee to install it with them.
Heartbroken to be stopped dead in her tracks yet again, especially as her local community had raised every single penny to build and fit out the centre, Karen had the thought to contact Junckers directly. After explaining her story, Junckers’ General Manager David Papworth offered to supply the flooring Karen needed free of charge, and to help install it, Tommy Smith of Courtcraft, a specialist sports flooring installation company offered his company’s services free of charge.
Senses Wellbeing Centre, a multi-use venue where everyone is welcome, regardless of age and ability, opens its doors on 1 November 2020. The community now has a dedicated safe space where there are no barriers to joining in. A space offering fitness classes, holiday and after school clubs for people living with disability or dementia and their carers in a venue that’s fit for purpose for the next 20 years, at least.
Follow Karen’s journey at Senses Wellbeing Centre on Facebook: @Senseswellbeingcentre
To help Karen continue her fundraising to help her community prosper, contact her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org