Leicester gym that defied lockdown launches new mental health service to help combat suicide

A Leicester gym that defied coronavirus lockdown rules has launched a new mental health service to help combat depression and suicide.

The Warehouse Gym – in Lunsford Road, Humberstone – said that two of its members had taken their own lives within the last four months.

The gym, which is the largest independent venue in the city, was forced to close its doors after England’s second national lockdown was introduced on November 5.

It followed an ultimatum issued by Leicester City Council, supported by Leicestershire Police, threatening it with a 90-day closure order if it did not comply with the rules.

Owner Lynton Dell had challenged regulations insisting that gyms, leisure centres and sports clubs closed their doors along with other “non-essential” businesses, claiming it was vital it be allowed to stay open to help support its members’ mental health – and even “‘prevent suicides”.

Mr Dell, who managed to avoid being fined after taking heed of the council’s final warning, has now decided to set up a service to help those who are struggling.

“We’ve seen two male suicides in three-and-a-half months during lockdown,” he said. “How many more suicides do we have to endure until people in authority take notice and commit to making changes?”

Help is at hand – The Warehouse Gym, in Humberstone, Leicester, is launching the Wellbeing Warehouse to help people struggling with their mental health
(Image: Leicester Mercury / Chris Gordon)

Mr Dell believes that his gym will be the first in the country to operate a specific service promoting its customers’ mental and emotional well-being.

He said it is designed to “help those people who need support right now”, without having to join a “16-month waiting list” to access NHS mental health services.

The new service has been christened The Wellbeing Warehouse. It has its own website and will launch at the start of March.

The website offers support for people suffering with stress and anxiety; depression (or just “feeling down”); and alcohol problems and drug addiction.

It will also help those having difficulties with body image issues and debt, and let them know where they can turn for further support.

Defiance – The Warehouse Gym stayed open during the second national lockdown in England until forced to close by the police and city council
(Image: Google)

“Visitors will be able to access therapists and mental health support workers inside of five clicks,” said Mr Dell, who added: “It will be run on a donation basis so that even people on low incomes can access resources and get help.”

Following the gym’s closure, Mr Dell vowed to help raise £10,000 – the amount that it would have had to pay in fines had the council carried out its threat – for mental health charities and the young daughter of Jordon Flora, a 27-year-old gym member who committed suicide last year.

Jordon, a former soldier, was found hanged in woods near his home in Loughborough on October 21 after he had been struggling with his mental health for a number of years.

Jordon Flora with his dog Cyrus, pictured in 2018

He had been medically downgraded by the Army and forced to leave and it is believed it was his third attempt to take his own life.

Prior to the gym closing its doors, Mr Dell had told LeicestershireLive that the reason he’d wanted to keep it open was to prevent other gym members experiencing mental health crises during lockdown.

Speaking today, he said: “Just saying we want to stay open for mental health reasons is not enough, businesses actually doing something about it is the important part.”

With gyms closed since January 5, people are currently limited to doing daily exercise once a day outside.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to announce his ‘road map out of lockdown’ on Monday afternoon (February 22).

It is not clear when gyms will be allowed to reopen, however, it is reported that a leaked blueprint indicates that it could be around Easter time.

For more details about The Wellbeing Warehouse, and to access help, visit the website by clicking here.

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