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YSF backs #SaveLeisure campaign

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Posted 24th July 2020

Yorkshire Sport Foundation very much welcomes the first steps in opening gyms, sports halls and swimming pools this weekend.

This will give a huge boost to the hundreds of thousands of people across our area who regularly use the centres each week.

Clearly, safety is paramount, with a huge effort over the last few weeks to ensure the facilities are Covid compliant. It means not all the facilities will be open and they will operate in a more structured way. Broadly, gyms and fitness classes in a limited number of centres need to be booked beforehand, whilst swimming pools will become available over the next few weeks.

Due to a range of factors the picture differs greatly between and within districts, with some opening fully; some not opening at all; and others taking a staggered approach. Further information specific to each district can be found on below:

South Yorkshire

Barnsley
Doncaster
Rotherham
Sheffield

West Yorkshire

Bradford
Calderdale
Kirklees
Leeds
Wakefield

In common with many areas, leisure centres have lost a significant amount of income over the lockdown period, placing massive financial pressure on Councils, leisure trusts and private providers. The current #SaveLeisure national campaign by UKActive, Community Leisure UK and CIMSPA, highlighted the threat to our centres. They estimate almost half of all public leisure centres across the country face closure.

The #SaveLeisure campaign calls for national government to recognise the potential huge loss to communities, and provide ring-fenced funding to local authorities to help leisure facilities survive.

“We know our public Leisure Centres are much more than places where people can do exercise,” said Nigel Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of Yorkshire Sport Foundation.

“They are often at the heart of our communities, providing essential physical and mental well-being services. They are places where people can get out, meet and socialise. They are a fundamental part of the fabric of our communities.

“Most of us will have learned to swim in them and our children continue to do so. They provide essential links with health services through referral schemes and targeted outreach programmes. Often they are aligned to other services, such as at Holt Park in Leeds which has adult and social care facilities; and the Move More centres at Graves and Concorde in Sheffield. They also, of course, provide the facilities for playing and progressing in sport for those that want to do so.

“This weekend marks the start of the opening up of some of these centres. This is rightly being done in a cautious, step by step way so that everyone can stay safe. Many of us will need to be patient as facilities will gradually open up.

“Our local authorities know how essential physical activity and sport is to their communities’ health,  well-being and prosperity, and there’s an opportunity to re-think and accelerate the role our centres have in tackling health inequalities. Especially at a time when Covid has shone a light on our general fitness as a population.

“We know, though, the councils are under tremendous financial pressure as they cope with the additional costs of recovery. The extent to which our facilities in Yorkshire are under threat, if at all, is unclear at present. But we do support the #SaveLeisure call for further specific funding from our government to secure leisure provision in the future.”

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