Sophie O'Sullivan, about 3 years ago
Founded by Ben Gotting and Dave Thomas in 2016, The Foundry is an inclusive, community-minded fitness company and charity. They offer group classes and world-class semi-private training over their three sites in Vauxhall, Old Street and soon-to-be opened gym in Bank.
The Foundry are committed to affordability and accessibility. On weekdays between 09:00am-10:00am and 2.30pm-4.30pm, their Vauxhall gym is free for the use of those receiving income support in the local area. Exercise is brilliant for your mental health and the quasi-sports club environment really encourages involvement from a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, shapes and sizes. They also have a Youth Academy that offers weekly fitness sessions for 11-16 year olds.
We go the extra mile. All your nutrition is looked after and our coaches are on hand to help manage your training and any other daily stresses on the body. We want our gym to be like a sports club, for everyone to feel welcome. There are around 150 members in each gym, which creates a tight-knit community.
-Ben Gotting, Founder
The Foundry's mantra 'no one left behind' extends to their hiring process. The trainers have the security of full-time employment in a flexible setting,with employee benefits and a profit share scheme. This is rare to find in the fitness industry and shows how forward-thinking The Foundry are as a business. Consequently, they have a really happy, diligent team who thoroughly enjoy their work.
The company has also enrolled with the prison service to support the release on temporary licence (ROTL) scheme which allows risk-assessed prisoners, approaching the end of their sentence, to work whilst on day release from prison. ROTL is a great bridge from prison to employment and allows the candidate and employer to work together in controlled conditions.
The first applicant was originally a gym member with a background in rugby. Prior to their conviction, they already had a solid relationship with The Foundry and so when the opportunity for employment came about, there was an existing foundation of trust between the employer and the employee. It is important to stress that prisoners who are eligible for ROTL are very carefully risk-assessed before they start in a working environment and so pose no risk to the client base.
The Foundry's first applicant completed his REPs level 3 qualification in a criminal justice setting. After about 4 and a half months, the paper work was successfully approved. They were able to start working on a voluntary basis, with The Foundry covering travel costs and sustenance, for 3 months in community delivery and a front of house capacity at the Vauxhall site. Just two weeks into their placement, Ben described them as 'very hard-working, motivated, conscientious and a self-starter.' This approach to employment meant that they were able to closely chart their progression with clear goals.
The applicant has now progressed onto paid full-time employment with further training, ability to travel between the different sites and bright future prospects. This is an opportunity that they are incredibly grateful for and they feel part of The Foundry team having built a very strong, close relationship with their employer.
People can have a second chance and deserve it. It works for us.
-Ben Gotting, Founder