New Northampton virtual reality hydrotherapy centre on brink of bankruptcy due effects of pandemic
The company did not qualify for Government support and has been rejected for a bank loan
An innovative new Northampton business combining virtual reality and hydrotherapy is on the brink of bankruptcy due to the effects of the pandemic.
Rebecca Gill launched her social enterprise company, VR Therapies and was gearing up to open a centre in Spencer Parade, Northampton, last year after leaving her nurse job in 2018.
However, Covid-19 hit the business hard, so much so that the pools were never filled and the centre was unable to open.
Now the owner is hoping to save her business, which offers health benefits including reducing chronic pain and alleviating anxiety, and can also help people tick off bucket list items, such as swimming with dolphins.
Rebecca said: “My background is learning disabilities.
“All of my work has been learning disabilities, brain injuries, autism and everything neurological.
“One of the things that has kept coming up in my career is hydrotherapy and the lack of it in Northampton.
“Traditional therapies are really difficult to access, despite the benefits.
“With physio, there's a very long waiting list, you've got to go private and it's costly so most people can't afford it. But here we can combine physiotherapy with immersive experiences, allowing the community to take control of their health in a fun way.”
After spending thousands on renovating the centre and building specialist disabled facilities, debts are building up for the company as there has been no income for more than a year.
With only two months before the social enterprise faces bankruptcy where all staff would have to be made redundant, Rebecca’s last hope is a CrowdFunding campaign as she has been denied loans from banks and was ineligible for Government support.
The nurse and businesswoman needs to raise £65,000, which will cover salaries for three VR therapists, the rent for the centre and provide specialist equipment for children with special needs.
Rebecca added: “Everything is designed in mind for people with disabilities and of all ages and abilities but everyone is welcome.
“It's for the community and I want everyone to come and have a go.
“We take those too poorly to walk swimming with dolphins, children undergoing chemotherapy flying through space, people with dementia down memory lane and so much more.
“The people that would benefit the most from these are the people least likely able to access it. We want to change this.
“But we will no longer be able to help people with VR therapy and very soon we'll be forced to go bankrupt.
“We never had a chance to open the doors or even fill the pools.”
Donations to the CrowdFunder will be rewarded with chances to win a range of prizes, from VR headsets to vouchers for sessions at the centre, as well as a ‘healthy dose of good karma,’ according to Rebecca.
There are also sponsorship deals available for businesses and free advertisement via the company’s ‘hall of fame’.