My name is James White and I am the Chair of the Trustees of @Worle.
As you may or may not know, the Trustees have responsibility for the direction and investments that the centre makes and we are set up as a Not for profit organisation and managed by a group of 6 Trustees.
I wanted to share with you a few thoughts regarding our plans for the centre and how we are working to improve the centre for you as our members.
@Worle was set up in 2012 as a Not for profit organisation by North Somerset Council and thanks to the efforts of the team at the centre led by Harry Nash, it has proved to be a huge success.
Although set up initially in conjunction with the council, the way in which @Worle operates is that we are an independent company that must earn our own money to survive. The council runs services from the centre but do not provide any form of other financial assistance. We run as any normal business would each year and have to ensure we make a surplus in order to be able to invest and grow
The centre was created to provide local members of the Worle community with a place to meet new people and keep fit and what makes @Worle different is that we are a centre for all ages, abilities, and races.
The building we operate in is owned by @Worle but is used by a range of different community groups (such as the Brandon Trust and Meals on Wheels) and being part of our community is the core DNA of what we do.
The success of @Worle since its start is also now proving to be one of its biggest weaknesses and this is why I and other trustees have been so keen to look at ways in which we can develop and grow.
Our membership numbers have now surpassed the original plans that the centre had and as I am sure many of you will know, the centre and gym can be very crowded at busy times.
Around 18 months ago, the centre started to look at how we could extend our facilities in order to provide more room for current and future members. We had a 2020 vision of what @Worle could look like and we employed a local Architect to draw up some plans for an extension of the centre.
As I stated above, we run as a separate business and so we knew that if we were to extend the building, this work would have to be funded by ourselves as we are all aware that the council have had to make significant cuts in their budgets over recent years.
Within the plan that we had, we wanted to extend the size of the gym, create a 2nd specific room for classes and also create a new room and area near the Café so that members could enjoy time to relax and meet with friends once they had finished a class or gym session.
We felt that the above plans would give us the platform in which to grow over the next few years and continue the success the centre has had.
When the plans and the detailed costings behind those plans came back, it was clear that what we had wanted to do would not be affordable to the centre with the current reserves we have.
This was disappointing, but we still tried to look at ways in which we could make this work. We did try to seek some external funding from grants and outside companies, but it was not possible to get the amount we needed (around £150,000) in place and so it left us having to re look at our options.
The Trustees are committed to extending the centre, but we also have to do this within a plan that is sensible and affordable. The last thing I or my other Trustees want to do is over commit ourselves to spending money on a larger project and then finding we have a financial shortfall. Although disappointed, we had to go back to the drawing board and adjust our plans.
So, as we stand here today at the end of March 2018, the status is this.
The centre is still very much committed to building an extension to our facility and we are working with our architect on a new plan which is based on the budget that we as a company can afford.
I have seen the revised plans that have come back and I think these look good and are affordable. In addition to these plans, the centre is also planning to build an extension to the café area and put in place a new service that can offer members great food and drinks in a newly decorated comfortable environment.
My hope is that we will be able to agree a completed plan for the extension within the next 4-6 weeks and then submit these to the council for planning approval.
If successful, I would hope we could be in a position by the Autumn to commence on our extension work and deliver the new and improved gym that I know all members want.
I want to apologise to any member who is frustrated by the delay in the works. I as the Chair of the organisation am also frustrated that we have not yet been able to start work but I can assure you that its not for the want of trying.
We tried to build the extension we really wanted but have needed (for financial affordability reasons) to focus on a smaller development in a two phased project. This development will still give greater space for members while improving the centre and this is something that I and other Trustees are committed to doing.
I hope that this update gives you an idea of where we are and what we are doing. I try to be in the centre most weeks and so if you want to discuss any aspects of what I have outlined in here then please feel free to contact me or any other Trustee and we can happily share more details with you about our plans.
I should finish this update by also saying if you are a local member of the community that would be interested in joining our Trustee board then I would love to hear from you. Being a Trustee is a voluntary position but one which is rewarding and allows you to give something back to your local community.
If you feel like you would like to know more or apply to become a Trustee, then please contact Harry Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can share more details with you.
So, it’s a final thanks from me to you as a member. We continue to appreciate you have a choice about the gym that you choose, and I thank you for continuing to choose @Worle as the gym for you.
We exist because of our community and are nothing without our community! We are proud to have you as a member as part of our community.
Chair of Trustees - Learning and Community Sport @ Worle Trust