Gym converts to social business to help support local causes
Business owner Neil Lyons had been running his private gym, LyonsDen Fitness, since 2005. A desire to provide affordable fitness facilities to people in the local community and give back to good causes led Neil to approach Social Business Wales for help converting the business to a social enterprise.
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Originally from an engineering background, Neil found fitness in 1993 to tackle his weight and a heavy smoking habit. With little help available, and as a fitness novice, he decided to take an instructors course to progress his new found passion. In 2005 he founded LyonsDen Fitness which he runs with his wife Faye.
LyonsDen Fitness is in Bagillt, Flintshire. A former industrial area, today Bagillt is a town where unemployment, social deprivation, high crime rates and child poverty are key issues. Neil and Faye wanted their gym to be a force for good in the town. They wanted to make sure that everyone could afford to use their fitness facilities and improve their health and wellbeing. They decided to transform the business into a social enterprise, Flintshire Wellbeing Ltd, so that its ethical credentials would be fundamental to its activities.
Neil worked with Social Business Wales advisor Jacqui Cross during the transformation process. Jacqui helped put together Memorandum and Articles of Association appropriate to a social enterprise and worked with Neil on a business plan. She also made sure that policies on gender mainstreaming, equal opportunities and environmental sustainability were in place from the start.
As soon as the transformation was complete, Neil and Faye reduced the membership rates so that they were affordable for people in the local area. However, they also created a members club called the ‘250 Club’. Members of this club opt to pay an extra £2.50 with their monthly fee to support local causes.
The first donation was to a not-for-profit gymnastics club Delyn Gymnastics, which received £500 worth of positive resistance fitness equipment. Money raised will go towards supporting local families and projects, e.g. foodbank, schools, outings for disadvantaged local people, local families who may struggle with long term hospital visits, Christmas dinner for families in financial need and the elderly.
A community cafe has been opened to make the centre more inviting as a place to go for local people. There are also plans to offer more family orientated and holiday activities at the centre.
4.4 full-time equivalent jobs have been created; one gym instructor, two fitness instructors, one hair stylist and one administrator.
Neil Lyons says:
“Our Social Business Wales advisor Jacqui has been an invaluable help in the process of converting to a social enterprise. This was a nervous step for us and she alleviated the scary bits. Jacqui is responsive and knowledgeable, as well as being a positive and calming person. The fact that I can put things in place and know there is a helping hand there if we get stuck, is a huge benefit.
“Social Business Wales continues to keep us informed of support in the sector – as a resource it has been brilliant. We hope to pursue more opportunities as we find our feet in the sector.”
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