When a Dundee mental health nurse was working with a dementia patient who was frustrated at his inability to get out and exercise, the seeds of what would become an award-winning business were sown.
Mother-of-four Lynn Warren, founder of Better:Gen, has worked in healthcare for 25 years, latterly as a mental health nurse specialising in dementia, heading up a former day hospital and working in communities.
However, it was when she met her youngest patient at that time, aged just 43 years old, that she saw a gap in the market.
Lynn explained, “This gentleman had severe dementia but was very fit, a former marathon runner and regular gym goer. He had so much energy but couldn’t get out. I remember thinking, if only there was someone trained in dealing with his behaviour and able to run with him, or go to the gym, it would make such a difference to not only his life, but that of his family. Health and wellbeing should be a basic right for everyone after all.”
Then, in 2015, having recently welcomed her fourth and final child into the world, Lynn decided to start running, quickly seeing the mental and physical benefits of exercise for herself.
With the business slowly taking shape in her mind and, by now, a REPS accredited fitness professional in addition to her nursing qualification, Lynn began approaching care homes and elderly mentally ill units with her idea, devising a programme and initially working with a small group of three, local care homes.
Lynn continued, “The feedback I was getting was fantastic, and I was loving it. However, I did wonder if I could make a living from it, whether it was sustainable or just something to do as a hobby.”
It was then that Lynn came across a social media post about the Coca-Cola 5by20 Dundee programme, so she got in touch with Angie Foreman, Programme Director and signed up for their very first ‘Fast Track to Business Success’ course.
The trailblazing course gave Lynn and the other participants the opportunity to be listened to, and to share and learn from each other while increasing their business knowledge and confidence through industry designed and led topics. Each day, they were hosted in-kind by business venues across Dundee, with interactive, practical sessions covering core business topics delivered by industry led business owners and other experts.
Following one week of creative, experiential learning, Lynn and her colleagues were tasked with pitching their business needs to a 10-strong support panel of business experts.
Lynn added, “Joining the Coca-Cola programme was a real turning point for me, and a huge eye opener. Amazingly, I secured both an investor and a mentor from it, Angie herself. I also gained lots of amazing advice from the panel of experts and began my three stage plan to get the business officially on its feet. As well as learning new skills, from the financial aspects and marketing to social media, the course also gave me the confidence to see that I could succeed. I truly believe that, if I hadn’t taken part, I would never have taken the plunge and would have gone back into nursing. Longer term, it’s heartening to always have the network to tap into, and the many network opportunities on offer.”
Opening premises in The Circle, Dundee a year ago, Lynn now works with 20 care homes and employs two members of staff.
Targeting adults who would not ordinarily access health and wellness, Better:Gen offers a range of activities. As well as the outreach programme, groups and individuals with learning disabilities and mental health issues can enjoy exclusive use of the Better:Centre.
Lynn is also passionate about intergenerational work where all ages get together and experience movement and fun, adding, “We have worked with members from the age of 2-102, all taking part in fun activities as a group, from playing volleyball and boxing to parachute games! – it’s amazing and fills you with what I call fuzzy feelings!”
And it’s working – in addition to the feedback Lynn receives on a daily basis, Better:Gen is an award winning business.
Better:Gen was shortlisted for ‘Most Innovative Start-up’ at the Association of Scottish Businesswomen awards, ‘Best Start-up’ in the Businesswomen Scotland awards and ‘Social Impact of the Year’ at The Courier Business Awards. Better:Gen also won the Dundee Business Awards, which will see Lynn compete in the national finals of the Scotland Business Awards in Glasgow in May.
However, it’s the day-to-day progress with her members that Lynn is most proud of, with clients gaining on so many levels, not just their physical health.
She explained, “We see transformations in everything from depression, confidence and sleep through to improved cardiovascular health, balance and disease prevention generally. The link between physical and mental health is well documented but we take this further by ensuring sessions are fun and all abilities are catered for. Better:Gen is truly for all, there are no barriers to health and wellness.’
For more information about Better:Gen, visit our website