August 01, 2020

Save the leisure sector!

A new campaign, #SaveLeisure, is calling on the UK government to protect the leisure industry from imminent collapse by investing circa £800 million to provide an emergency relief fund to sustain UK leisure infrastructure and services through Covid-19 to the end of March 2021.

Almost half of all public leisure facilities (48 per cent) are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the year without financial support from the government.

Leisure centres, swimming pools and community services play a vital role in society. Latest figures from 4global via Data Hub research indicate that public leisure provision contributes £3.8bn in social value to the UK (England, Scotland and Wales) every year, measured through savings to the NHS as well as improved mental and physical health.

Providing services in the UK's most deprived areas, public leisure facilities are a critical support for people from lower socio-economic groups who are 18 per cent less likely to be active than their more affluent counterparts.

There are more than 2,800 public leisure facilities across the UK providing accessible and affordable facilities and services for all members of society, serving children and adults, schools and community groups, older people and faith groups. The leisure sector is a key asset in helping the government meet its target of reducing obesity, managing diabetes, and improving the nation's health to limit the impact of a potential second wave of Covid-19.

Neil Armitage, CEO of Archery GB, said: "Over 60% of archery clubs are reliant upon school premises and a further 30% reliant on access to leisure/community centres. The sustainability of our sport requires members to be able to participate. It is vital that government departments coordinate their efforts to open these facilities urgently. Sport is a facilitator to healthy activity and given the government's revised plans for healthy lifestyles, archery provides a great solution. Archers can typically walk around 2-4km in a session and pull the bow around 150 times with a force of 7kg. There are many health benefits related to the practice of our sport both mentally and physically. I urge the government departments of health and education to work together on this important initiative and get these sites open.”


#saveleisure is a digital campaign run by CL-UK, ukactive, CIMSPA and supported by Swim England, Swim Wales and other partners, urging the UK government to commit circa £800 million relief funding to enable the full reopening and recovery of the public leisure sector accounting for the catastrophic impact of Covid-19. Without specific relief funding, it is estimated a third of all public leisure facilities in the UK will not reopen and half will face permanent closure by the end of the year.

Mark Tweedie, Chief Executive of Community Leisure UK, said: "Communities without leisure centres are unimaginable, so we are reaching out to everyone to unite behind our #saveleisure campaign for specific fixed term government financial support to save our leisure centres and community based services. Public leisure centres feature at the heart of communities - they play an essential part in supporting health and wellbeing and help to reduce escalating costs to the NHS and social services. They are places where communities connect and have fun, they serve all age ranges and abilities, from parents with babies, through to sports clubs, walking groups and gentle exercise classes; and in these unprecedented times, they will be vital to help millions of people maintain their physical and mental health, and build resilience to, and rehabilitate from Covid-19.

"We know Sport England has made the Government aware of the severe impact on public leisure provision and are continuing to support this vital part of our sector to secure additional financial support as serious concerns remain over its economic viability, and we welcome the recent DCMS Select Committee report highlighting the urgent need for funding to preserve leisure facilities and community based services.”

Calling all elite athletes! 

Elite athletes are invited to support the campaign by using the #saveleisure hashtag on Monday 3 August along with a 50-100 words quote OR a 1-2 minute video about why leisure is important - personal anecdotes very much welcome! Your quote/video will be added to Community Leisure UK's campaign page and for ongoing #saveleisure campaigning.

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