JUST - Juggling and Unicycling Stockton on Tees

Stockton on Tees

Your story

Circus Skills and Unicycling Club providing fun and fitness in the local area.

Group introduction

JUST are a volunteer-led group based in Billingham providing primarily the opportunity for people of all ages to learn circus skills and unicycling. Established in 2002, it has grown in size and in the number of activities, but remains loyal to it's purpose of providing fitness, fun and many other benefits.

A small core committee is supported by a larger group of regular helpers, who provide teaching and support to members in learning the various skills.

Overall, while the club is 'fun', there are a multitude of physical, emotional and social benefits that it provides and we would love to continue and grow this. Based in Billingham, we attract people from a variety of backgrounds and areas, but primarily families in the local area, many of whom have a lower income. As a result, we have strived to keep the club affordable and accessible to all, with prices having being held at £2 for a child and £3 for a adult for a number of years, plus providing free equipment loan.

While the initial purpose of the club is obviously fun, the benefits of the group run far deeper, particularly for the children but also for adults:

SOCIAL: People of all ages and walks of life attend the club. Some find that the regular (weekly) sessions provide the contact that they need. For younger members, they learn social skills such as turn-taking, trust, following rules and the importance of them. Friendships have been established in group, which have continued outside of the regular sessions.

PHYSICAL: Many of the skills help to develop fitness, but often without participants realising that they are taking part in 'exercise'. Each session offers over two hours of activities such as unicycling, hula-hooping, rola-bola, globe-walking, slacklining and much more - even juggling raises the heart-rate and gets people perspiring! As a club we are keen to promote healthy lifestyles and encourage participants in doing so, even providing free loans of equipment for them to keep it up all week.

MENTAL HEALTH: Numerous members have reported how the club helps with their mental health, the benefits above included, but also giving them an outlet, a distraction from everyday life and a new focus, along with a sense of belonging and achievement.

EDUCATION: There is a lot of research which demonstrates how circus skills provide transferable skills, such as performing arts and an understanding of physics. There is also evidence to show that some skills such as juggling can improve hand-eye coordination (beneficial for dyslexics), while overall the whole club builds confidence and develops problem-solving skills and promotes perseverance and progression.

SEN: We frequently find that children who don't always engage well in class situations or who have behaviour difficulties actually perform well and thrive at JUST. This may be for a number of reasons, including the sense of inclusion, the 'student'-led learning, the variety, and the support and attention of the volunteer coaches.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We have had a very rocky year with uncertainty over the premises we hire, which have now been taken over via a CAT. In September, we will be returning to the venue and having a refreshed relaunch of the club (over July and August, we are unable to use the venue as it is leased out to a local festival), and as part of this we would love to renew some of our aging equipment and invest in new equipment - either new things we don't currently provide, replacing things which are beyond repair or poor quality, or increasing the number that we have of some items which are popular or that we only have limited supply off.

We are frequently asked to take part in outside events such as the Stockton International Riverside Festival, Stockton Cycling Festival and school events, while providing entertainment, it also gives our members a pathway into taking part in events that they might not have otherwise been able to access. Being able to subsidise club outfits for members (t-shirts and hoodies that we already sell at near enough cost-price) to allow everyone to have one and feel part of the 'team' would be brilliant.

At the moment we cater for around 200 people who access the club at varying intervals and by having more equipment available and new skills to learn, it will allow us to engage more people and further spread the benefits of the club.

""We are passionate about providing a wide range of benefits to the local community and hope that Skipton Buiding Society's Grassroots Giving will allow us to continue and grow the club for the benefit of existing and new members." - Tracey Wright, Secretary"

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