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Care leavers in Newark and Sherwood among first in the country to have free council leisure centre memberships


By Abigail Hunt


Care leavers in Newark and Sherwood are among the first in the country to have free leisure centre memberships.

These people will be able to have free access to their local district council-run leisure centre services.

Council-run facilities include Newark, Ollerton, Southwell and Blidworth and are available to care leavers up until their 25th birthday.

Photo shoot at Newark Sports and Fitness Centre to promote the free leisure membership that is available for care leavers across the district. L-R Michael Anderson - fitness instructor, Councillor Roger Jackson, Terry Galloway, Andy Hardy, County Councillor Sue Saddington, Martin Picker, Ellie Drewett - Active Lifestyle officer. 290819DD4-4 (17509737)
Photo shoot at Newark Sports and Fitness Centre to promote the free leisure membership that is available for care leavers across the district. L-R Michael Anderson - fitness instructor, Councillor Roger Jackson, Terry Galloway, Andy Hardy, County Councillor Sue Saddington, Martin Picker, Ellie Drewett - Active Lifestyle officer. 290819DD4-4 (17509737)

Newark and Sherwood District Council has been working closely with Nottinghamshire County Council to create this latest offer for young people.

"Physical activity has a tremendously positive impact on emotional and physical wellbeing so this really is a fantastic initiative," said Roger Jackson, district council chairman of the leisure and environment committee.

"Young people who have been in care might not have been able to readily access opportunities like these and may face significant barriers to taking part in regular physical activity.

"We hope the free leisure offer will empower care leavers in the district to lead more active, healthy lives and develop new skills through physical activity."

Active4Today operates four leisure centres for the district council, including the Newark Sports and Fitness Centre and Southwell Leisure Centre.

Facilities for care leavers include free gym, swimming facilities and fitness classes.

The aim is to improve health and boost confidence and mental wellbeing, while giving people a chance to try out new activities and meet new people.

John Robinson, district council chief executive said: "Every parent wants the best for their children and demonstrates this in all kinds of ways.

"Young people leaving care are often unable to rely on the family support that is provided to others their age and as corporate parents, this is where we can step in.

"Providing free access to leisure centres is a practical way in which local councils can level the playing field for care leavers and improve their quality of life."

The local offer also provides:

  • Council tax being until the age of 25
  • £3,465 a year towards university costs
  • Support with childcare costs while working or studying
  • Help securing a £1,000 apprenticeship bursary

Care leaver campaigner Terry Galloway was instrumental in advising on Nottinghamshire’s Local Offer after having been in care himself.

He said: "My mission now is to create a better pathway for children in care and care leavers so that they have the support they need, akin to the support we would give our own children."

Details about the Nottinghamshire Local Offer for care leavers can be found here.

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