GP CIC was founded in 2015, with the aim of providing ‘sustainable destination sports and wellbeing facilities’ to the local community.
GP CIC is a company limited by guarantee and is directed by a Board of local volunteer Directors, with specialist skills to ensure proper compliance and processes are applied to all activities.
GP CIC commissioned a report to assess the health and wellbeing of the local area and to look at how we could best use the ground to help alleviate some of the most serious social impacts facing the local community. We found that in the local community, life expectancy among men was 9 years less than the national average and 7 years less for women, which in itself is shocking, but that local people’s usage of the NHS was 1.6 of the national average (1). We also established the area had high immigration rates and local wards were in the top 5% of the country’s most deprived.
We drew up our outline plans and ran various consultations events within the local community, one of which attracted over 3,000 attendees, and formulated a plan, which included the setting up of a charity, Wellbeing at Garon Park (WBGP) and then started our work to find the funding to finance our levelling up mission.
WBGP is a registered charity CIO and is directed by a Board of local volunteer Trustees, with specialist skills and experience which compliment the target aims of the charity. WBGP’s aim is to use the natural wealth of the site to “improve the mental and physical health and wellbeing of the local community, while enhancing the beauty, biodiversity and environmental value of the site.”
In 2019 GP CIC signed a substantial Lease on the 32 acres site with Norman Garon Trust, after jointly raising £1.7m for sports and wellbeing facilities with WBGP in the same year.
GP CIC completed the installation of a 3G football pitch in January 2020 and in March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic struck and we, as the rest of the nation, had to close. It was however not all bad news as we had funds to build the WBGP offer, the Vitality Park, which features a near 1k specialist fitness pathway with activities spaced along the route.
The site operates a ‘levelling up’ agenda, which means we offer the same access to a safe, non-judgemental facilities to everyone.
In 2019 we employed 1 person on site, in 2022 that has gone up to 12, all from the local community.
The site has been financially sustainable from day 1 with our business plan based on letting and licensing facilities to suitable local partner organisations to deliver community services in our facilities.
The regeneration of the site allowed us to immediately provide the community with safe facilities and activities to improve their mental and physical health after lockdown in April 2021 – a time when local people were struggling disproportionately with the challenges of the pandemic.
We were extremely pleased therefore, when in June 2021 we were chosen by the Local Authority to deliver the Community Regeneration Fund (CRF – In2Volunteering and In2Work) – and Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programmes locally – both of which have proven our model’s ability to provide a first class, focused execution at scale.