Local companies and tradespeople are being urged to get behind a new Upper Gornal fitness centre and community hub that is helping tackle anti-social behaviour, mental wellbeing and isolation.
Black Country Wellbeing Centre has recently become a Community Interest Company (CIC) and is now in a position to accept donations to help it continue the transformation of the once derelict centre in Vale Street.
Wade Cooper and Adam Bradley, the driving forces behind the ambitious project, have already taken a disused building and created a thriving place where more than 150 young people and adults come every week for boxing, to play football and attend fitness classes.
The plan now is to incorporate a café and music studio at the premises so they can support more individuals and this is where they need Black Country businesses to back their vision.
“We’ve had no funding to date so everything has been done through the hard work of volunteers and people donating equipment to us…it has been an amazing response and helped us get up and running,” explained Wade Cooper, who came up with the idea after being released from prison and looking for a new direction with his life.
“The response from the local community has been incredible and we are now seeing hundreds of children, teenagers and the elderly come through our doors and take part in activities. This proved to me that the appetite for the centre was there and we want to develop it so that it becomes a real focal point of the community.”
He continued: “Our next big plan is around creating a café for people to meet and where we could hold mutual interest groups to prevent isolation or as a way of tackling local issues. This would then be followed by building a music studio - we’ve got some great talent around here, but nowhere for them to go and practice.
“We are appealing for local businesses, tradespeople and volunteers to come forward and help us whilst we see if our application for funding is successful. This could be through donations, corporate sponsorship, leasing equipment to us or just getting your hands dirty with the building work.”
Every week, Black Country Wellbeing Centre holds boxing for adults and boys and girls (aged 5 and above), ‘Young at Heart’ Over 50s classes, ‘Fight Fit’ ladies sessions and Pound, a revolutionary class with music at its heart.
In September, it will also be launching its own mini Black Country Ballers courses, delivered by a Level Two Football and Futsal coach.
Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, added his support: “The work that Wade, Adam and their army of volunteers have done is tremendous and is vitally important to the area and local residents.
“The once derelict building has been transformed, making it a real hub for the community again. It focuses on working with young people to tackle important issues, such as anti-social behaviour, crime and gang culture, but also to equip them with some of the vital skills they will need throughout their lives.”
Adam Bradley concluded: “We are so grateful for the support we’ve received, but we have to keep improving the centre and the activities we are providing. There’s no limit to our imagination, with talks already taking place about securing funding for a 3G football pitch that will replace the grass one that has seen better days.
“Upper Gornal deserves a community hub and we are well on the way to delivering it.”
In honour of Wade’s efforts, he has been nominated for an Outstanding Citizens Award by David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and will find out if he has been successful on July 11th.
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