Yarm Wellness, which is located under the famous viaduct bridge behind the High Street, will host ongoing activities for a variety of ages and abilities.
Planned sessions include a men’s shed project, well-being and fitness classes, dementia friendly gatherings, mother and baby bonding and even partnership work with local businesses, who will provide skill workshops for local residents.
There will also be a drop in café for people to make new friends in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Chair of the project Cheryl Scollay (pictured) said: “We’re really excited to get going, because it’s been a long time since the residents of Yarm has had a community hub of this kind.
“There are already 10 other volunteers working alongside me with a huge range of skills sets and very big hearts and we’re all really looking forward to opening.”
As well as the internal grounds, plans have been submitted for an outdoor space and community garden, which will feature raised bedding and planting, a sensory garden, and an area for outdoor fitness and exercise.
News of the project has excited locals too, and a real sense of community had blossomed over the last few months. Local tradesmen have been giving up their time for free, volunteers have helped throughout the development process and more and more organisations are chomping at the bit to get involved.
What’s more, local businesses have helped with over £97,000 in donations of materials and labour, including a new bespoke kitchen for the project, and some cash donations for the set up including £2000 for Wi-Fi connection to the site.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the help we’ve received so far”, said Cheryl.
“It just goes to show how much the residents of Yarm want this to happen, because they can see the benefit it will have.
“I’d just like to give a massive shout out to all of the individuals and organisations who have helped so far, because without them, we wouldn’t be anywhere near ready to open.
“We have come a long way in a very short space of time.”
Cheryl first knew of the centre at the beginning of 2020 while working for Little Sprouts on a Community Outreach programme.
Its main hall was being used as a location to sort the organisations emergency hampers, which were being given out to local residents throughout the pandemic.
Having been in poor condition for some time, the space was in need of a little TLC. So, Cheryl decided to call on Kath Simpson (Chair of the building and charity at the time), to see what could be done to renovate and restore the building to its former glory.
If her vision was to work, she also knew that she needed the backing of some big organisations, so to set the renovation wheels in motion (and begin activity planning), she spoke to representatives from Stockton Borough Council, local politicians, investors, and businesses to show them her vision of reengaging the community post COVID and combating isolation.
She has now left her former role and has taken on the project in a full-time capacity.
“It took on a life of its own really,” she said.
“I spoke to Kath and she was happy for me to take the reigns to see what could be done.
“I went home and thought about all of the great activities that could be hosted, and I spoke to local people about what they’d like to include.
“Once we had the ideas in place, I started to paint a bigger picture… and things started to come together nicely. All we needed was help with the renovation.”
Fast forward to today and plans for project delivery are going from strength to strength, with Teesside Dementia Link Services, The Royal British Legion, Barclays Bank and Darlington Building Society all lined up to host activities.
“Even though we’re in the very early stages, we have lots of things to look forward to and we’d like you to be a part of it,” said Cheryl.
“We’ll be letting people know about our activities and opening date within the pop-up shop on Yarm High Street (Next to the Raj Bari restaurant) on Monday 26th July, so pop in and say hello.
“We’re also looking for Trustees and a Patron to join us, so if you are interested in becoming part of the team, please let us know.”