Sports and leisure services contributing to community life

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Published Date: 

26 May 2014 - 14:00

People in Argyll and Bute are attending more fitness classes, having more swimming lessons, visiting the gym more often and using halls more for sports activities. Children and young people are taking part in more extra curricular activities such as badminton, dance and athletics.

The contribution to community life by Argyll and Bute Council’s leisure and sport services was highlighted in a review considered by members of the Community Services Committee at their first meeting.

The council’s Policy Lead for Community and Culture, Councillor Robin Currie, said, “Leisure and sport reach large numbers of our citizens and make a difference to many of their lives. Some facilities are large and others small but they all are important to our communities and the economy of Argyll and Bute.

“The council and our partners are working to ensure that people have the opportunities to live active, healthier and independent lives, and to help our children and young people have the best possible start.

“The integration of our leisure services – which are pools and halls, Active Schools, sport development and the Community Sport Hub programme - has been extremely positive. It also makes sense as all are working to improve the health, fitness and general wellbeing of our communities.”

The review (which can be read in full at shows customer satisfaction levels are high, with feedback showing over 93% rate staff friendliness and helpfulness as good or excellent.

Councillor Currie added, “Our employees have adapted to these changes quickly, our teams work well together, and have shown themselves to be outward looking, innovative and flexible. Staff are enthusiastic and work hard often in unsocial hours. We feel we punch above our weight and we will strive to continually improve our service going forward.”

Here are some points highlighted in the review:

Swimming Lessons: during the year 2012/13 swimming staff gave almost 56,000 swimming lessons, mostly to children, and we are increasing our teacher numbers to meet demand.

Halls are real community assets, hosting all kinds of events from weddings to pantos, and they are gathering places, too, vital for strong communities. The use of social media to promote the use of halls resulted in one wedding reception picture being seen by more than 6,000 people, all potential future customers.

Active Schools: over 112,000 children and young people from a school population of around 10,700 benefited from extra curricular activity. There are over 400 people undertaking volunteering opportunities and leadership training. We are working with NHS Highland on promoting healthy weight, and providing support to families and to children with disabilities. Active Schools fund raising generates over £70,000 annually to help make activities and events affordable for schools and pupils.

Leisure: over 440,000 people use our four swimming pools, sport centres and seven halls

The council will also provide grant aid to community pools during 2014/15, to Atlantis, in Oban, of £434,032, to Mactaggart Leisure, Islay of £77,926 and to the Mid Argyll Community Pool of £55,975.

Argyll Active benefits between three and four hundred people every year. Exercise is arranged through referral in partnership with the NHS and local GP practises, and is offered to all sedentary individuals and to people on the phase IV Cardiac Rehabilitation programme.

Clients pay a reduced fee and the NHS contributes £8,000 to the overall programme cost with Leisure Services making up the difference.

Sport Development includes coach education, support to clubs, and operation of a Community Sport Hub which provides information, support and advice on a wide range of sports and physical activities to make it easier for local people to get involved and engage in a more active and healthier lifestyle.

Staff: health and safety is paramount to keep our customers safe and ongoing training of staff is of the highest priority. There is a huge range of staff qualification requirements, such as a four day training course for lifeguards followed by training every month and regular competency assessments. Cardiac rehabilitation training takes at least two years to qualify.