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Brimhams Active Managing Director voices support for Water Wellbeing

Swim England’s Water Wellbeing accreditation has been labelled as a ‘catalyst’ for positive change and collaboration at a recent health and wellbeing event.

Pool operators recently gathered to learn about the latest developments and training opportunities available through the national governing body’s Water Wellbeing programme.

The event included updates from Good Boost, educational content on cancer and swimming, presentations on funding options and from healthcare professionals on current partnership opportunities and service developments.

Also contributing to the event were Brimhams Active, a relatively new community health and wellbeing company owned by Harrogate Borough Council.

The North Yorkshire-based operator signed an agreement with Swim England earlier this year to work towards Water Wellbeing accreditation at all of the pools under their control across the district.

This set them on track to become the first leisure organisation to achieve full coverage by January 2023.

During the event, Swim England’s head of business engagement Alex Hains, spoke to Brimhams Active Managing Director Mark Tweedie, about his organisation’s vision for wellness and pointers from his experience for the rest of the sector.

Mark explained how he was introduced to swimming as a child, joining a swimming club and squad, followed by participating in triathlons and how it was all about competition for him then.

Swimming is my salvation

He said: “I would never have thought back then that 30 years later, my love of swimming would still be there.

“But it’s not about competition, it’s now about managing my aches and pains, with the pool as a place where I can feel safe, warm and comfortable in exercising.

“I swim three times a week and if I don’t, my pain gets worse, so swimming is my salvation. It has been a lifetime activity and will continue to be so.”

Now in his role as Managing Director, Mark outlined the organisation’s focus, saying: “I have come to the conclusion that we are not a leisure industry, but a wellbeing industry.

“We do operate leisure facilities, but that’s just one of the tools we use to improve wellbeing.

“Our vision is about helping people to live happier, healthier and longer lives and to achieve this we take a person-centred view to our service offers.”

He explained the strategy at Brimhams Active, which has been taken from the NHS 5 ways to wellbeing approach, and has five core themes.

The organisation focuses on a central theme of physical activity, with the remaining four strands being nutrition, mind-set, connection and recovery. They are then introducing programmes under each of those themes.

Fantastic framework

Discussing the Water Wellbing accreditation specifically, Mark continued: “With the Water Wellbeing accreditation, we saw that as a framework to help us achieve all of this, and it really does.

“It’s a fantastic framework and will be challenging for us… but we want to use it to allow us to maximise the opportunities that we know our pools can provide, to deliver and improve health and wellbeing for our communities.

“We [as the leisure sector] need to be better with our evidence of impact and we need to demonstrate this through a data driven, more analytical approach, to show the impact activities are having on the communities we serve.

“The other things that are key is taking a collaborative and strategic approach, not just locally, but regionally and nationally.

“There’s an awful lot of good work going on out there that tends to be in pockets around the country, so how do we bring it together with better collaborations?

“I think the [Water Wellbeing] accreditation will be a catalyst for that.

“Swim England have worked really hard with their networks to try and generate that collaboration, but we need to translate that into regional and national plans and strategies with ambitious targets.

“There has never been a more important time for this, we know the demands on the NHS and social care systems are rising exponentially and the cost of our facilities are rising too, but we can make such a difference and every £1 invested can save a lot more.

“So now is the time to get this message home.”

For more information on Brimhams Active, their strategy and team, visit the Brimhams Active website.

For more information on Water Wellbeing or other aspects of Swim England’s health and wellbeing work, get in touch at health@swimming.org.

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