Member Showcase: Green Sky Fitness

By Dean Cartwright, Co-founder, Green Sky Fitness

Green Sky Fitness logoGreen Sky Fitness is a Community Interest Company (CIC), set up in 2013 by Andy Gray and myself, that uses exercise to transform the lives of people in disadvantaged areas.  Based in Middlesbrough, we are active throughout the North East and specialise in improving people’s lives by means of our bespoke fitness and educational sessions.

 

What we do

We deliver fitness sessions, both in local communities and at our centre in Middlesbrough.  Working with ages from walking toddlers (aged 1-4) through to over 50’s, we use less mainstream team sports, such as dodgeball and ultimate Frisbee to promote healthy lifestyles with our groups.  We now have our own gym in Middlesbrough which, although is quite small, is beautifully formed and can help individuals overcome any apprehension they may have going into larger commercial gyms.

 

Our aims, as well as to improve health and well-being, are to reduce social isolation, improve mental ill-health and to generally help people to feel better about themselves and their community.  Three of our staff are qualified Personal Trainers which means that, as well as working with groups, we can work with individuals on a one-to-one basis in a supportive environment.

 

Green Sky Fitness are huge advocates of improving the mind as well as the body and so, we offer an array of sports and fitness qualifications to our participants which can not only help to improve confidence but have actually led to sustainable employment for some of our learners.

 

The courses we offer range from Entry Level introductory courses through to industry-recognised qualifications such as the Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training.  The awarding bodies we currently work with are Gateway and YMCA Awards who both regularly ensure that the quality of our delivery meets national standards.  We also train coaches in the North of England up to Level 2 for the UK Dodgeball Association; working with a National Governing Body for a sport that’s growing at an ever-increasing pace is both exciting and very rewarding.

 

Partnerships are key to our work and we’re proud to say that we work with a number of local organisations including Mind, Middlesbrough FC Foundation, Middlesbrough Kickz, Street League, Sunderland University and the De Paul Trust.  These relationships are very important in helping us meet our aims as a CIC as they allow us to work with some of the most vulnerable groups in the most disadvantaged areas of the North East.

 

Having community-orientated goals has always been a priority since setting up the business and, despite myself and Andy having years of experiencing working for charities, it was suggested to us that we set up a CIC instead.  There were pros and cons to this; the pros were that there would be less governance required and we’d have more flexibility in how the business traded.  Negatives included having fewer funders that we could apply to (although this is increasing for CICs) and there are no tax breaks affordable to charities.

 

Given that, at that point, we were only two in terms of personnel, we went down the CIC route and received help, both in setting up and in getting our first pot of funding, from Sported for which we shall be eternally grateful.

The Future

In January of this year, we decided it was time to rebrand and came up with the current name: Green Sky Fitness.  In doing this, we wanted a name that embraced both what do (fitness) and how we think.  The Green Sky moniker relates to the Northern Lights and represents reaching for the stars, which we encourage everyone to do with their health and well-being.

 

We feel that our new colours and logo have given us a fresher image and going through the rebranding process has really helped us to focus on what we want to deliver to our participants and how this helps us achieve our goals.

 

Moving forward, we want the Green Sky Fitness brand to grow and are looking to expand our delivery throughout the North East and thus increase the numbers of learners we work with.

 

To do this, we will need to secure more funding, both commissioned and grant funding, and we would also like to expand into working with corporate companies around wellness at work.

 

The funding landscape is especially unpredictable with huge numbers of organisations applying for the finite number of funding pots.  We know we need to get better at writing bids but have a plethora of wonderful endorsements for the work that we’ve done so far to be confident enough to sell our ideas and the impact we have.

 

Here’s to the future.  The sky’s the limit!

 

Follow Green Sky Fitness on Twitter:  @GreenSkyFitness