Salford has secured £660,000 funding to help aid the recovery of publicly owned leisure centres hit by the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding is part of the Government’s £100 million National Leisure Recovery Fund and will be utilised by local leisure trust Salford Community Leisure (SCL) to help recover from the pandemic. The funding distributed via Sport England, will be used to help fill in income gap created by the closure of the eight leisure centres across the city during lockdown restrictions throughout the last year.
With leisure centres closed for significant periods in the last year, income has dramatically fallen across the leisure, sport and health fitness sectors across the country, including here in Salford. But whilst many residents have been keeping active with more people walking, exercising outdoors or doing fitness classes online, including those provided by SCL, the leisure centres have remained empty for large periods of the year.
In recent months, leisure centres at Clarendon, Eccles and Irlam and Cadishead have been used as vaccination centres, whilst Broughton acted as test centre. The government roadmap to recovery is now in place, with plans to re-open gyms and leisure centres, including those operated across the city by SCL, from Monday 12 April. There is light at the end of the tunnel for the thousands who wish to return to exercise in the centres and for an industry hard hit by the pandemic.
Salford is one of 266 local authorities across England to receive funding. The funds, bid for by Salford City Council and distributed by Sport England will be allocated to SCL to help recover financially from the last year.
Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett said “Receiving this is great news and a significant boost for the city and SCL. We all know how important keeping active is and how many people genuinely rely on the city’s leisure centres to exercise, whether it’s visiting the gym, swimming or playing sport.
“Our leisure centres are vital community assets for the city. The services and activities available in our centres play a huge role in helping support customers with their physical and mental wellbeing. This funding will really help in re-opening and recover from the pandemic.”
Salford Community Leisure’s roadmap to re-opening plans includes:
Salford Community Leisure Chief Executive Steve Hassall said “After a very difficult year, we’re thrilled to have received this funding. For our sector and indeed all our staff, I’m delighted have a plan to re-open our centres to customers and we can’t wait to welcome users back, to help them continue to keep being active.”
Sport England’s Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, said: “Leisure facilities have a vital role to play in supporting the health of the nation and in particular in serving our more disadvantaged communities.
“They have been hit especially hard over the past year, so this investment is crucial and will help thousands to reopen when it becomes possible to do so – supporting the recovery and helping people get back to the activity they have badly missed.
“Sport England has worked at pace to enable the distribution of the investment to happen as quickly as possible and remains committed to doing what we can to continue to support this crucial part of our sector.