Unity Centre Lewes: Creating a diverse and inclusive centre

By Unity, not for profit CIC

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A huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported us to date. Having successfully raised our initial £80,000 ‘Stage 1’ funds, we are now closing this crowdfunding page. We are incredibly busy working on ‘Stage 2’ to raise double this amount for our capital refurbishment. Thank you to all of you who were able to donate/loan/sponsor/support us within the total ‘Stage 1’ £80,000.

We are now fundraising to support the start of our capital refurbishment in ‘Stage 2’ and more specifically for specialist equipment to ensure that we can be inclusive, to make sure all are welcome. This includes funding for a disability hoist, the adult changing table and specific massage couches, please do get in contact if you are able to offer support with these vital items. We are actively fund-raising so do please be in touch if you think you can help in any way.

We aim to open as fully as we can in late Summer 2019 and look forward to meeting you at The Unity Centre then.

With special thanks to all our friends and locals who have offered their support, financial and otherwise. And thank you to National Lottery Awards for All, Waitrose Lewes Community Matters, Chalk Cliff Trust, Locate East Sussex Grant and to all others who have offered loans, smaller sponsorship and upfront payments.

With our deepest gratitude

FYI For those of you who chose a perk, we will be in touch with details of how/ when to redeem when the Centre officially opens

About Unity Centre Lewes

What if there were an inclusive community centre where:

  • Local people can relax and make friends, enjoy music, delicious vegetarian food or watch a play in a welcoming, warm and nurturing environment?
  • Adults young and old, as well as children, can take part in yoga, meditation, movement & dance, martial arts, massage, bodywork & healing, music & voice work, art & crafts and theatre (as expression, therapy and performance)?
  • People with disabilities, learning difficulties, long-term illness and other challenges can reap the benefits of activities such as music for dementia, yoga therapy for cerebral palsy and arts & crafts stroke clubs, run by specialist facilitators, teachers, therapists and practitioners?
  • Carers can enjoy relief and ‘me time’ by attending classes and tailor made day retreats?
  • Local businesses can showcase and sell their works through Unity Lewes gallery and shop?

This is the vision behind Unity Centre Lewes. And we need your help to turn this vision into a reality.

A project set up for you, not for profit

Unity Lewes is a Community Interest Company and therefore a not for profit project. This means, if successfully funded, we’ll lock any assets we acquire into the business. As a result, you can be confident expenditure will be applied to the business’s social purpose.

The people behind Unity Lewes

My name is Sevanti. My wonderful Team and I, 'Unity' are currently based in Brighton, although most of us are local Lewes residents. For over 20 years I’ve run classes, treatments, professional training, and retreats from my successful Unity Brighton studio.

My inspiration

When my father suffered a severe stroke 20 years ago, I drew on my skills as a yoga and massage/healing teacher to make sure he benefited from massage, energy work, acupuncture and community support including art and stroke clubs. Today he has a positive mental attitude, and still enjoys adventures including world travel.

When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I supported her with holistic treatments and energy work and the supportive philosophy of yoga.

My personal experiences combined with my many years of teaching and coaching, have shown me how community support, classes and treatments can uplift and help those in need.

Equally importantly, I’ve recognised how important it is to support carers as well as those being cared for.

For these reasons I, together with my team at Unity Brighton are committed to building a vibrant and inclusive community centre that’ll offer affordable supportive, nurturing, informative and inspiring events, courses and sessions for the benefit of members of my community.

I want to provide something for everyone under one roof so that when they leave, they feel uplifted and inspired!

So when the accessible Turkish Baths in Lewes came up for tender, I jumped on the opportunity to turn my vision into a reality. With ground floor access, it is an ideal home for our inclusive services.

From Turkish Baths to a vibrant and inclusive community centre

The iconic Turkish Baths Building is situated on a quiet road between the Train Station and High Street, in the historic town of Lewes.

When the Turkish Baths building was built in 1863, it offered hot and cold baths. After that Lewes District Council took ownership of the building, before it's print rooms were moved in 2015.

Of course, when the lease of the Turkish Baths was put up for tender, it generated considerable local interest. Unity Lewes won Lewes District Council’s tender process because:

  • Our business plan delivers both social and community benefits.
  • We have a proven viable business that can pay reasonable rents and contribute to the renovations of the building.

How we will fund the vibrant, inclusive community centre

Lewes District Council is undertaking an initial, partial 'shell' refurbishment of the building to bring it up to standard.

Furthermore, we are supporting the project with private funding, loans and grants.

Then with your help, we can:

  • Install flooring, electrics, heating and plumbing.
  • Buy specialist equipment such as hoists and frames for our severely disabled guests.
  • Fit the Turkish Baths with:
  • A large yoga studio (for around 22 mats)
  • second studio/community/art room
  • A treatment room (for bodywork/talking therapies)
  • Sauna
  • Flotation tank
  • Small tea room/cafe
  • Shop
  • Gallery space

Equally important to us is our wish to minimise the environmental impact of our project. So we plan to use recycled and natural materials as much as possible. For this reason we’re working with the Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project, Making Lewes and other local groups, to help us achieve a green refurbishment. We shall be receiving the Lewes Pound and wish to contribute positive health and wellbeing support for our Transition Town.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Together we can make this project happen.

Jo Carter, Green councillor for Lewes,

"I'm really pleased that the Unity Centre for Yoga, Wellbeing and the Arts has got the lease for the historic Turkish Baths. Hundreds of local people signed a petition I started that persuaded the council that this public building should be occupied by an organisation with 'social and community' value, not just another restaurant. I think Unity ticks all the boxes: they are really committed to running a program that is open to all from young to old, and they have great plans to offer pain relief, support and therapy especially to those who are disabled or suffering from long-term illnesses. I'm looking forward to seeing Unity bring the Turkish Baths back to life with yoga, martial arts, dance and something for everyone!"

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Team Members

Lucy Freeborn

Lucy Brandram