Southampton City Council has been successful in its bid to the National Leisure Recovery Fund (NLRF) and has been awarded more than £610,000 of funding.
The National Leisure Recovery Fund was established to support eligible public sector leisure services to reopen to the public and to give the sport and physical activity sector the best chance of recovery to a position of sustainable operation over the medium term.
The council has been financially supporting its leisure operators throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with the objective of ensuring that the city’s residents have the best available sport and recreation opportunities in order to improve physical and mental health. To achieve this the council has worked with its leisure partners to ensure that most leisure services have been open during the periods allowed by the coronavirus legislation.
The NLRF funding will help to support activities at The Quays Swimming and Diving Complex, Bitterne Leisure Centre and Chamberlayne Leisure Centre as well as at the Outdoor Sports Centre which are all managed in partnership with national charity Active Nation.
Being allocated NLRF funding has allowed Active Nation and Southampton City Council to resume service of key activities and programme timetabling on day one of restrictions being eased for the immediate benefit of Southampton residents. Which has meant the full resumption of gym, swim, outdoor exercise classes in a specially designed marquee environment and racket sports.
In addition, the council will use the NLRF funding to ensure that activities are available to the community at St Mary’s Leisure Centre such as squash, badminton, shoot the hoops, five-a-side football, volleyball, massage room and other activities as determined and led by customer and community demand.
Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Culture and Homes, said: “In Southampton, we know how important it is to keep our communities fit and healthy. However, keeping our leisure facilities running and ready to re-open has been a real challenge during the pandemic. We are just coming out of our third national lockdown and some outdoor leisure facilities have started to reopen. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but there is still some way to go. This investment will help us to continue to work with our partners to keep open our leisure facilities that are so desperately needed to improve our city’s health and wellbeing.”
"Being able to guarantee that specialised provision can stay open is a real boost to help our local recovery. Being active is not just good for us physically, it also prevents and manages medical conditions, reduce anxiety and stress, improves confidence and brings people from all ages and backgrounds together.”
Active Nation’s Managing Director, Stuart Martin commented: “We are extremely excited to bring back the full resumption of activities for Southampton’s communities. Reopening our gyms, swimming pools, exercise classes and outdoor activities such as skiing, kayaking and sailing will be of huge benefit to the health and happiness of local communities. We have gone to great lengths to prepare environments that are COVID secure and safe so that our supporters have a smooth and confident return to our venues. We look forward to welcoming you back.”