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National Leisure Recovery Fund is a ‘shot in the arm’ for ‘cherished’ swimming pools

A new £100 million National Leisure Recovery Fund will be a ‘shot in the arm’ for swimming pools across the country and help safeguard the long-term future of ‘cherished’ facilities.

The National Leisure Recovery Fund was announced by Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, at the end of October and Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has hailed the launch of the fund as a ‘welcome development’.

Local authorities will be able to apply for the fund to assist the reopening and recovery of leisure services and prevent further closures of leisure centres.

The fund is to help meet the additional costs of operating the service and is focused on the period from 1 December 2020 to 31 March 2021.

Expressions of interest need to be made by Monday 21 December and eligible bidders will then be able to submit an application for the fund until the final deadline of Friday 15 January 2021, through an application portal on the Sport England website.

Jane said: “The launch of the National Leisure Recovery Fund is a most welcome development.

“As the mass vaccination programme has now begun, this fund will be a real shot in the arm for pools and will help safeguard the future of facilities used by swim schools and clubs across all of our aquatic sports.

“These essential facilities are helping the nation bounce back following the national lockdown but many are still closed due to the impacts of the pandemic and others are struggling to stay afloat.

Desperately needed

“As an organisation, Swim England has long been fighting for funding as part of the #SaveOurSports campaign to support our pools and clubs it’s great to see those efforts coming to fruition.

“We look forward to seeing this money reach the pools where it is so desperately needed as soon as possible, helping many cherished facilities through the winter.

“Once this money has been distributed and we can see its impact, we will be better positioned to assess what further support the sector needs.

“In the meantime, we will certainly continue to stand up for our pools and our diving, swimming, water polo and artistic swimming members, including continuing to call for a return to the club activity for our over 18 club members in all tiers as soon as possible.”

Charles Johnston, Sport England’s executive director of property, said: “The health and mental wellbeing of communities across England relies on access to high quality gyms and leisure centres.

“While this funding cannot solve all of the financial and operational challenges facing the leisure sector, the National Leisure Recovery Fund will offer a lifeline to society’s least active members and help them to build up the immunity we need to fight coronavirus.”

Sport England anticipate beginning to allocate the money from early January onwards and the entire £100 million must be with leisure centres by the end of March.

For more information visit Sport England’s help page.

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