Leisure centres set to launch free memberships

The pool at the Waveney Valley Leisure Centre in Bungay, East Suffolk.

The pool at the Waveney Valley Leisure Centre in Bungay. - Credit: Everyone Active

Waveney leisure centres are set to offer free membership to children in care and care experienced young people from this month. 

The free membership will give them access to a range of facilities depending on their age, including gym, swim, soft play and group exercise.

Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft and Waveney Valley Leisure Centre in Bungay, which are both run by Everyone Active in partnership with East Suffolk Council, are taking part in the new initiative to reduce the barriers between children and young people participating in sport and physical activity.

According to latest figures from the Department for Education for children looked after (CLA) in England, the number of children in care is at an all-time high, at more than 80,000 children or 67 in every 10,000. 

This year, Everyone Active launched its national Community Health and Wellbeing Strategy, with the aim to meet the needs of individual communities through programmes that support people to be physically active, and to feel happy and healthy.

As part of the strategy, this membership will support children in care or care experienced young children with free access to leisure facilities that can help improve their physical health and mental wellbeing.

The complimentary membership for cared for children and care experienced young people can be accessed and set up through a referral system from local council family support teams. 

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Stuart Jardine, Everyone Active’s contract manager, said: “We are immensely proud to launch this partnership in East Suffolk. We understand the vital role we play in supporting all areas of the community and feel this membership will make a real difference to many young people’s lives. 

“We want to provide opportunities for young people and children who have been in or currently are in care, that activity is for all, and we want to offer them a safe space to enjoy our sports and activity offering.” 

Letitia Smith, cabinet member for communities, leisure and tourism, said: “This is a commendable gesture from our leisure partners at Everyone Active to the local community. 

“It will give these children easier access to the kind of high-quality facilities they can use to support their physical, emotional and mental health.

“We welcome any initiative that gives young people a chance to develop healthy habits that will last into their adult lives,” she said.