Leisure centres in Somerset West and Taunton are set to offer free membership to children in care and care experienced young people from this month.
Blackbrook Leisure Centre and Spa, Taunton Swimming Pool, Wellington Sports Centre and Wellsprings Leisure Centre run by award-winning operator Everyone Active in partnership with Somerset West and Taunton Council are taking part in the new initiative to reduce the barriers between children and young people participating in sport and physical activity.
The free membership will give them access to a range of facilities depending on their age, including gym, swim, soft play and group exercise.
According to latest figures from the Department for Education for children looked after (CLA) in England, the number of children in care is at an all-time high, at more than 80,000 children or 67 in every 10,000.
This year, Everyone Active has launched its national Community Health and Wellbeing Strategy, with the aim to meet the needs of individual communities through programmes that support people to be physically active, and to feel happy and healthy.
As part of the strategy, this membership will support children in care or care experienced young people with free access to leisure facilities that can help improve their physical health and mental wellbeing.
The complimentary membership for cared for children up to age 15, and care experienced young people aged 16-25, can be accessed and set up through a referral system from local Council Family support teams.
Mark Washington, Everyone Active’s contract manager, said: “We are immensely proud to launch this partnership in Somerset West and Taunton. We understand the vital role we play in supporting all areas of the community and feel this membership will make a real difference to many young people’s lives.
“We want to provide opportunities for young people and children who have been in or currently are in care, that activity is for all, and we want to offer them a safe space to enjoy our sports and activity offering.”
Cllr Derek Perry, Executive Member for Sports, Parks and Leisure at SWT, said: “We are delighted that our leisure operator is taking the initiative to support these children and young people by making it easier for them to access our leisure facilities. It’s increasingly important to recognise the challenges people face in our communities and identify where we can make a difference.
As well as providing the opportunity to improve their physical health, we hope the free membership will also benefit their mental wellbeing, helping them to feel healthy through the fun of fitness.”
For further information, visit: https://www.everyoneactive.com/about-us/what-we-offer/health-and-wellbeing/