£1million funding boost for free sports sessions in Leeds
A new health project which would see leisure centres in Leeds provide free sport and fitness sessions every day has moved a significant step closer today.
Leeds City Council’s proposed pilot project ‘Leeds Let’s Get Active’, which aims to encourage people of all ages to be more physically active and especially those in areas of greatest health inequality, has been backed today by a total of £1million of match-funding offered by Leeds public health and Sport England through the National Lottery.
Under the proposals, which are now expected to be discussed by the council’s executive board next month, one hour each day would be made available at every Leeds City Council-managed leisure centre in the city for free gym and swimming sessions.
The sessions would be open to all but would be primarily targeted at those who currently do not take part in any sport or physical exercise, while additional sessions each day would also be made available in parts of the city identified as having the highest levels of health inequality.
Other elements of the scheme would see free community sport sessions such as running and walks offered in parks, as well as packages for three months of access to council leisure centre facilities and classes available for just £5.
The scheme would be managed jointly by Leeds City Council’s sport and active lifestyles service and the new public health services which are being transferred from the former Leeds Primary Care Trust to the council on April 1.
The project aims to increase participation and improve health and wellbeing as part of the drive for Leeds to be the most active big city in the country, and also represents an example of the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games for Leeds.
Figures released by Sport England have shown that the basic cost of physical inactivity in Leeds in 2009/10 was £10.95m, out of an overall total for England of more than £900m.
More details on Leeds Let’s Get Active are expected to be revealed ahead of the executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 24 April.
Leeds City Council executive member for health and wellbeing Councillor Lisa Mulherin said:
“Leeds Let’s Get Active provides a fantastic platform for helping to close the health divide in the city, with a focus on encouraging especially those who currently do not take part in any sport or exercise to take part in the free sessions.
“Apart from improving participation and health and wellbeing, there will also be significant benefits for the city in terms of reducing the pressure on health services, so it really has the potential to be a fantastic win-win all round.”
Leeds City Council executive member for leisure and skills Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:
“We are delighted to have secured this funding from Sport England and the National Lottery and thank them for their fantastic support in bringing this scheme to life. Leeds Let’s Get Active is a bold new project which has the potential to make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives by offering the chance to dramatically improve their health and wellbeing.
“It fits in perfectly with the ‘inspire a generation’ theme of the Olympics and will provide a tangible legacy of the amazing events of London 2012 right here in Leeds.”
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