UK Charity Backs Call To Protect Young People’s Access To Pools Amid Cost-Of-Living Crisis

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

UK Charity Backs Call To Protect Young People’s Access To Pools Amid Cost-Of-Living Crisis

A UK-wide sports charity is marking Big Swim Day by backing calls to protect access to swimming and pools amid fears cost-of-living increases and other economic pressures could impact on young people’s ability to take part.

National, devolved and local government are being urged to take urgent measures to keep facilities open, many of whom are small, independent pools serving local communities.

Sported – the UK’s largest network of community groups supporting young people to overcome barriers and reach their potential through sport and physical activity – conducted research among 3,000 member groups last month.

They found that 53% were witnessing a reduction in their income with 37% of groups reporting a reduction in young people attending sessions in recent months amid fears they’re being forced out of physical activity.

Sported, which works with community and grassroots organisations across the UK, has written to both the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales to flag the issues in recent months.

Sported was also a signatory on a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier this week which asked the UK government to extend its Energy Bills Discount Scheme to the community leisure sector when it is introduced in April or risk an increase in utility bills which will undermine hubs which offer a priceless lifeline to so many young people across the country.

Sported chief executive Nicola Walker said:

“Many smaller swimming facilities, in particular, are run by community organisations to provide a vital local resource.

“While community groups rely on affordable access to facilities to remain sustainable and to be able to offer young people a place where they can feel safe and supported.

“We are already seeing how of cost of living pressures are hitting grassroots sport and physical activity in the pocket.”

Big Swim Day

People are being encouraged to take the plunge at their local pool on Big Swim Day on Friday 24 February.

They are also being asked to email their MP or tag them on social media urging them to back local pools with more financial support as part of campaign.

Duncan Goodhew, the 100m breaststroke champion at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, is backing the campaign.

In a statement through, Goodhew said:

“This is make-or-break time for an alarming number of swimming pools across the UK. It’s madness that the Government doesn’t seem able to see the danger they are in.

“Without pools and leisure centres being classed as vulnerable, the astronomical energy price hikes their operators face will sadly be the final fatal blow for many.

“It’s obvious that we cannot afford for communities to be robbed of swimming pools. People have never needed help with their health and wellbeing more. Yet, without political and financial support, they are going to have fewer places than ever to do that.

“I’ve seen thousands of children learn to swim in their local pools. If there aren’t the places to teach these life-improving – lifesaving – skills they will be lost for a generation.”