An award-winning social entrepreneur who is aiming to beat obesity has won the opportunity to raise £180,000 as part of the Big Venture Challenge.
The money which comes as matched funding with an external investor and the Big Lottery will enable Bethany Ainsley’s East Durham business, Nouveau Dance and Fitness CIC, to double in size inside two years launching two new bases in Newcastle and North Yorkshire by early 2016.
When this happens she will have secured over £500,000 in Big Lottery cash targeted at successful and effective social enterprises since the inception of her businesses five years ago.
She said: “I’m delighted to have got this opportunity, which gives us the ability to realise our plan for expansion into two new geographical areas, bringing dance and fitness to the most deprived communities and continue to provide our services to private sector companies to help with their employees’ health and wellbeing.”
The competition was open to hundreds of social enterprises and social entrepreneurs across the UK and Bethany and her business is one of only two in the North East and 40 nationally to have secured the business-building cash which is delivered by UnLtd - a company set up to support successful social entrepreneurs.
“Obesity and its terrible mental and physical consequences is a global problem, the fourth biggest cause of death worldwide. That to me is a shocking statistic and shows it is an issue that must be addressed.
“We’ve already proved very successful in tackling obesity rates across County Durham, Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees helping over 1,200 people a week, many of whom would not have been able to access dance and fitness opportunities without us, change their approach to lifestyle and make their new found fitness stick.
“Our expansion will mean we can help an estimated 2,400 people a week get fitter reducing their risk of heart disease and diabetes. It’s a formula that works and I’m absolutely convinced this is something that can be rolled out nationally.”
Nouveau Dance and Fitness has offices and a studio in Peterlee but covers the whole of County Durham, Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton by providing classes direct into community centres, village halls and schools. It currently works with 1,200 people across 65 venues every week but is now set to double in size by 2016 from its current complement of 12 instructors to 24.
She added: “The North East and indeed the whole of the UK is facing an obesity epidemic so having seen the formula work in this region we are keen to expand.”
The North East has triple the national average in obesity related hospital admissions, with County Durham Primary Care Trust experiencing the highest rate in the whole country in 2013.