Countryside funds No1 Fitness Academy to change the lives of young Barnet residents

Brook Farm Open Space

Countryside, the UK’s leading mixed-tenure developer, in partnership with the London borough of Barnet, has funded No1 Fitness Academy, a local social enterprise programme with £15,000 to support Brook Valley Gardens residents with employment, apprenticeships and business start-up opportunities.

In addition to the £15,000, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has provided match-funding of £49,000, to increase the programme’s capacity, allowing access to the wider Barnet community. The programme aims to provide participants with accreditations and qualifications.

The programme run by No1 Fitness Academy allows residents to gain a level 2 certificate in gym instructing, which can then be used for employment purposes. No1 Fitness Academy aims to reduce the number of young people at risk of offending or re-offending, integrating into gang culture by partnering with local offender management platforms.

Pavlos and Vasilli, two brothers from the Barnet area, have both recently completed their level 2 certification, which has led to employment in their local Waitrose and taking up Taikudo as a hobby. Before starting the course with No1 Fitness, both brothers were unemployed.

Robbie, a recent student of No1 Fitness Academy, was living in supported accommodation in Barnet but has now been given permanent housing by the council following his commitment to the course. Robbie is now applying to fitness-related jobs through the help of the No1 Fitness team.

All previous participants of No1 Fitness Academy have successfully completed the programme and moved into employment, apprenticeships, or self-employment.

Brook Valley Gardens is Countryside’s major regeneration of the Dollis Valley housing estate, providing a variety of new homes when completed and various community facilities, such as a central garden square, new green spaces, community centre, children’s play areas and pre-school nursery.


Panny Tsekouras, Director, No1 Fitness Education Academy CIC, said: The partnership this project has created will seek to provide qualifications into the health and wellbeing sector to those from deprived backgrounds who may be involved with/ or on the verge of criminal activity. This links directly into the mayor’s priorities to tackle serious youth violence and the Metropolitan Police drive to cut serious youth violence. We are very excited to have been given the opportunity to work closely with our community.’’


Cali Ibrahim, Senior Employment and Skills officer, Barnet Council, said: “Our partnership with DWP and Countryside continues to support and inspire change within our communities by support programmes such as No.1 Fitness Academy to ensure our Barnet Communities can have a suite of opportunities that meet their needs, informed choices and aspirations. We wish all our Barnet residents in this programme absolute success!”


Daniel Layton, Managing Director, Partnerships North London, Countryside, said: “Our main priority is looking after the health and wellbeing of residents at Brook Valley Gardens and connecting with other Barnet communities. Pavlos, Vasilli and Robbie’s stories demonstrate the success of this collaboration with the Department of Work and Pensions and Barnet Council, as we stand together in supporting local businesses which offer support to the residents of the Barnet. I’m looking forward to seeing what other successes continue to come of this.”