Help needed to #SaveOurSports Swim England tells Sports Minister17 November 2020
Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson today met with Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for Sport, and MPs from across political parties.
The discussion surrounded the impact of Covid-19 on aquatics, the difficulties facing many pools and clubs, and the need to get pools open again as soon as possible.
The meeting comes at a time when all swimming pools are once again closed during the second national lockdown, with many still feeling the impact of the first lockdown.
Among the issues discussed were the impact of the lockdown on leisure facilities across the country and need for a Sports Recovery Fund to help the sector bounce back stronger.
In addition, the current situation for swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming clubs and the need to ensure pools are able to open as soon as possible when lockdown ends.
Research from Swim England revealed that at the time of the second lockdown, approximately 15 per cent of public swimming pools in England had still not reopened.
Speaking after the meeting, Jane said: “I would thank the Minister for making the time to meet with us to hear first-hand the current situation facing all our fantastic aquatic sports.
“I re-emphasised how vital it is for our clubs, members, swim schools and everybody else that enjoys the water, that swimming pools are able to open as soon as possible, in all tiers.
Come back stronger
“It also remains Swim England’s belief that swimming pools should be classed as essential services and excluded from any further lockdowns.
“This is because of the importance of physical activity and the huge positive impact being active in the water has on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, particularly those people who are unable to exercise on land.
“Before the second lockdown we were seeing an increasingly positive picture, with more pools reopening by the month.
“However, we know that too many had still not been able to reopen their doors meaning many clubs were still facing difficulties accessing pool time, with others being faced with increased pool hire fees.
“Additionally a number of pools that were open before the second lockdown were still facing an uncertain financial future operating on reduced footfalls.
“Therefore it is essential that a Sports Recovery Fund is provided to help facilities and our sports to come back stronger following the pandemic.
“The Government is to be commended for its £100 million investment in leisure facilities which will have a real impact, and it was good to hear more about this funding, with details due to be published by the department.
“However what is abundantly clear is that this money is not enough and that is why the Sports Recovery Fund is more important than ever as we seek to #SaveOurSports.”
Hubs of their local communities
Responding to previous parliamentary questions on the return of grassroots sport, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP, has stated that grassroots sport and leisure facilities will be at the front of the queue to reopen.
During the meeting, Mr Huddleston repeated this desire to see sports facilities open as soon as possible but indicated that a final decision on the criteria for tier restrictions has not been made by the Government as yet.
Swim England will be continuing to press the Government to ensure pool are able to reopen as the lockdown comes to an end, and for the further support our pools, clubs and swim schools need.
Catherine West MP, Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, added: “Up and down the country swimming pools are often hubs of their local communities, helping people lead healthier, active lives.
“They are particularly valuable for people with a range of health conditions which can make it difficult for them to exercise on land.
“It’s therefore crucial if we’re to avoid widening health inequalities that we have the pools we need for the future.
“That’s why the Sports Recovery Fund is so important and why I will continue to work with Swim England to stand up for swimmers in parliament.”