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#OpenOurPools campaign was ‘just the beginning’ of battle to help facilities

A campaign backed by tens of thousands to get pools reopened was ‘just the beginning’ of the battle to help facilities financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson has hailed the success of the #OpenOurPools crusade to politicians at a recent meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Swimming.

The group met to discuss how Covid-19 has affected the sector and Jane warned more needs to be done by the Government to prevent millions of people missing out on being active in the water.

Jane said: “The message to the Government is loud and clear.

“It needs to provide ring fenced-funding for local authorities to protect public swimming pools and leisure facilities.

“Swimming provides so many benefits, to physical and mental wellbeing, community cohesion as well as saving the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

“#OpenOurPools has shown we can get results … but that was just the beginning.”

It’s vital support is provided

The #OpenOurPools campaign was initially launched when swimming pools were not among the facilities that reopened on 4 July – and almost 55,000 people signed a petition calling on the Government to reconsider its decision.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport then announced on 9 July that indoor pools could reopen on Saturday 25 July.

Jane was part of an expert panel speaking to the APPG on a digital conference call.

Also calling for more financial support for the sector was Andrew Clark from GLL – the largest leisure operator in the UK managing more than 270 public sport and leisure centres – and Mark Tweedie, the Chief Executive of Community Leisure UK, a members’ association that specialises in charitable trusts delivering public leisure services across the country.

The meeting was chaired by Catherine West, the Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, and held on the day the #SaveLeisure campaign – which is backed by Swim England – was launched by Community Leisure UK, ukactive and CIMSPA.

Ms West said: “I know how loved and well used the swimming pools in my constituency are, and the many benefits swimming provides to my constituents.

“That’s why it’s so vital support is provided to ensure that millions of people don’t end up being denied the opportunity to enjoy all these benefits. I won’t stop pushing hard on behalf of swimmers and all those who use the water as we seek to #SaveLeisure.”

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