The site will be turned into a unique, purpose-built Gympanzees centre, which will provide disabled children, young people, and their families with a safe space to exercise, have fun and socialise with others. The centre will be the first of its kind in the UK and will welcome over 200,000 visitors each year.
With plans to open the doors to families from 2026, the centre will be designed to cater for children and young people with the most severe physical disabilities, who require support for all their needs and movements, through to those with autism and ADHD who can be incredibly active.
The site, which is an old motorway services and easily accessible for families in the South West and Wales, will be the first permanent home for Gympanzees. Until now, it has been running events in the Easter and summer holidays in special schools. These are smaller ‘pop-up’ versions of the proposed centre and have been running for five years with over 21,000 visitors welcomed in 130 days.
Stephanie Wheen, CEO and Founder of Gympanzees, said: “We have achieved this mammoth first step in fundraising and purchased the building, now we need to fit it out and deliver this much-needed centre for disabled children and their families.”
John Sharpe, business banking relationship manager at Triodos Bank UK, added: “We’re pleased to play a pivotal part in this important next chapter for Gympanzees. Our finance always aims to have a positive impact and we can see what a difference this permanent centre will make to the lives of young people with disabilities and their families.”
As well as the lending from Triodos, the £3.1 million site was purchased with support from The Nisbet Trust, Rockcliffe Charitable Trust, The Sunrise Foundation and individual gifts. Gympanzees were also donated over £200k of pro bono work to secure the site by Stride Treglown, BOM IT Solutions, Osborne Clarke, Northen QS, JLL, Hydrock and Burston Cooke.
Gympanzees is launching the next part of its fundraising appeal to so it can completely refurbish and fit out the newly acquired building with 10 different specialist exercise and activity rooms and spaces, with therapy rooms, exercise studios and a community cafe. The 'Project Home' appeal aims to raise £10.8 million through a multi-phased fundraising campaign.
Emma, mother of Isabella, explained: “Gympanzees has been a lifeline for our family.Isabella was deprived of oxygen at birth. She is now ten years old and has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Her mobility is limited; she is a full-time wheelchair user with emerging independent sitting. As she has got older, organising a day trip, or simply going to the local park has become challenging.
“Gympanzees has provided carefully planned sessions that enable us to meet other families in similar situations and make new friends. She never wants the fun to end and is heartbroken at the end of every session. It was clear that every aspect of the programme had been carefully considered to meet every person’s needs. It’s not an exaggeration to say that their support has changed our family’s life”.
To find out more about Project Home, please visit: gympanzees.org/appeal.
Notes to editors:
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- Gympanzees’ mission is to enable every child and young person with a disability to access regular play, exercise, and friendship, to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, and to lift their families out of isolation.
- There are over 1 million disabled children and young people from 0-25yrs old in the UK and 66,000 within one hour drive of Bristol. 77% cannot regularly access leisure facilities. In Bristol, 69% say this is a severe to extreme problem in their lives. 92% of parents feel that their child with complex needs does not have the same opportunities to play as their non-disabled peers. Whole families are isolated with 65% of parents saying they feel isolated some or all the time and 72% experiencing mental health problems as a result.
- Gympanzees have spent the last five years supporting 1,000s of children and young people with disabilities and their families through their Pop-Up facilities, Lending Library and Online Resources
- Over 6,000 families, special schools and groups extensively use their Lending Library with over 2,000 deliveries to date.
- Gympanzees has launched their capital appeal ‘Project Home’ - to build a world class facility in Bristol that will cater for people (0-25yrs) with sensory, physical, learning difficulties, SEN and any mild to profound disability and open seven days a week.
- People can support Gympanzees by visiting www.gympanzees.org
About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Germany as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands but active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.