Charity submits plans for physical and mental health centre

Sara Hawkins

Charity submits plans for physical and mental health centre

Edinburgh-based charity Projekt 42 has unveiled plans to create a community gym and wellness centre in Leith to promote links between physical and mental wellbeing.

Established by Sara Hawkins following her own battle with mental health, the proposed gym would host a timetable of fitness classes, guided meditation, life coaching and counselling.

The charity has officially lodged a planning application with Edinburgh Council after receiving support from property developers Buccleuch Property, who have brought together a task force of local building experts, engineers and architects to provide advice and assistance on the project, free of charge.

Charity founder Sara was inspired to open the centre after suffering with PTSD and finding that attending a gym regularly dramatically improved her mental wellbeing. She said: “I was put on a lengthy NHS waiting list and couldn’t find any other kind of support that was suitable or affordable.

“I started going to the gym and it was a combination of physical exercise, counselling and life coaching, that helped get me back on my feet and facing the world again. A year later I ran my first marathon. I thought if it could work for me, it had to work for others, and I threw all of my energy in to setting up Projekt 42.”

The charity has been running a pilot scheme, and in just 11 weeks has attracted 350 members, with 30 hours of activities; from yoga and circuits to weight training and meditation, taking place every week.

Now, the social enterprise has officially lodged plans to create its own bespoke facility. The new-build will include fitness studios, an indoor cycle studio, and classrooms to host workshops including nutrition & food planning, counselling and a fitness academy to provide affordable fitness qualifications to young adults in Edinburgh.

Sara said: “Our temporary studio has been a major success and a good first step in realising our vision of creating a sanctuary where people can build happy bodies and strong minds. We now want to reach more people in the community and offer them a safe space to come together, get moving, open up conversations and break down barriers about the mental battles we suffer.”

David Peck, managing director of Buccleuch Property, said: “We’ve all been really moved by not only Sara’s personal journey, but her drive to improve things for other people. Mental health is such an underdiscussed topic affecting a huge amount of people, and I didn’t have to do much convincing to get a strong team of property businesses on board to help Projekt 42 realise their vision.”