Tailored Leisure Company (TLC) and Headway Wearside’s award-winning formula for accessible fitness sessions, has proven to be just the right match for Sunderland City Council as they continue to build a healthy, happy city, as part of the city’s inspirational journey and one of the three key pillars of the Sunderland – Our Smart City Plan.

Following a recent call out for innovative projects to support the city to reduce health inequalities and to support residents to improve their health and wellbeing in relation to a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity, TLC and Headway Wearside have been awarded funding to support the city as it embarks on the road map to recovery following the impact of Covid 19.

TLC who recently announced funding success and a new delivery partnership with the Foundation of Light, the official charity of Sunderland AFC has successfully grown the initial Sit to be Fit concept into an even larger scale community engagement project, supporting participants to access the tailored fitness support.

Funding secured will see the THEE Club (Tailored Leisure and Headway Wearside, Education and Exercise), which will run in partnership with Headway Wearside, and use a variety of methods to engage residents and organisations and will focus on improving health and wellbeing. Engagement will be key with these at-risk communities, and those with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) alongside increasing access to community interventions and programmes to support health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities.

Tara Johnson, Director of TLC who set up the company due to her own experiences of living with cerebral palsy, said: “Following the success of Sit to Be Fit at home which we launched via zoom during the lockdown, we are delighted to further roll out this programme into the community thanks to the funding received from Sunderland City Council, enabling us to reach all abilities, those cared for, with MS and other long-term conditions, but also for Carers.

The sessions really do see results and have a huge effect on the wellbeing and the mental health of our participants who’ve seen a detrimental impact on their fitness levels during the lockdown, people are still suffering post-lockdown, and community engagement is key to support the most vulnerable.” 

The project will play a vital part in the city as Sunderland City Council continues to find innovative ways to support health improvements and to support residents to have physical and socially rewarding experiences.

Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Healthy City, Councillor Kelly Chequer, said:

“Making Sunderland a healthy city is one of this council’s key priorities and we know that exercise can boost both physical and mental health. 

“TLC’s tailored approach to fitness helps to make a healthy lifestyle more accessible to a wider number of people and this helps towards reducing health inequalities in the city.”

A winner last week of the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards 2021 for Corporate Social Responsibility and a recent PNE Social Impact Award winner, TLC have been a key driving force in developing accessible projects since its inception. The team are committed to developing accessible opportunities to get fit, have fun and relax with as little stress as possible and is passionate about overcoming the barriers and social exclusion faced by disabled people.

Led by regional research they attracted the attention of numerous national funders over the months to run a host of accessible fitness projects. The community and virtual fitness programmes run alongside a continued funding drive to raise £1.5 million for the development of an innovative, one-of-a-kind accessible short break holiday and leisure complex, the ‘Butterfly of the North’, which saw the inspirational founder (Tara Johnson) stand for the first time in over 20 years to raise vital funds towards the endeavour.

Paul Brown, Chair of Headway Wearside a brain injury charity supporting adults and their families following Acquired Brain Injury across Sunderland and Wearside, said: “We are very proud to be partnering with Tailored Leisure Company on this project. Acquired Brain Injuries can have a huge impact on both the physical and mental health of Brain Injury survivors and their families. 

This project has been an important part of the range of activities and services we provide especially during the COVID pandemic when accessing gyms and other face to face activities have been more difficult than ever. Our members have provided very positive feedback that they have really enjoyed these sessions and this has had an impact on their day to day health as a result.”

Tara added: “The last year at Tailored Leisure Company has been one of phenomenal growth and we are delighted to be working across the North East region thanks to vital funding from key partners. 

We are delighted to have expanded our team further through the kickstart scheme, plus we have several opportunities for volunteers to join the team as we roll out and grow the project. We’d love to hear from people who’d like to support our community-based projects.”

A number of open days are scheduled in the community for the project which will run from November 2021 – March 2022, over 12-week sessions. To find out more and to register tailored.leisure@gmail.com or visit https://tailoredleisure.co.uk

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