Cannock Chase Council and their leisure provider partner, Inspiring healthy lifestyles (IHL), have reached an agreement to continue their longstanding arrangement to manage leisure facilities and provide key wellbeing services across the District.
Nationally, organisations like IHL have been under extreme financial pressure due to the extended period that Leisure Centres, Theatres, Museums and other services have been closed due to lockdown. This has resulted in an almost total loss of income - which is particularly acute at this time of year, given January and February are traditionally a very busy and important period.
The agreement in Cannock is part of a wider agreement which also sees IHL continuing to provide similar services for Selby District Council, Yorkshire. All three parties have worked closely to collaborate and find a way through the current difficulties the pandemic has presented.
Both councils are committed to focusing on those who do not exercise regularly or who have simply lost the habit of regular physical activity during the national lockdowns.
Recent research by University College London shows that 40% of people are doing less exercise in Lockdown 3 than in Lockdown 1.
The new plan, currently being finalised, will prioritise supporting people who have become inactive during the pandemic and helping them get their healthy routines back on track.
Councillor Christine Mitchell, Portfolio Leader for Culture and Sport said “The Council have an excellent relationship with Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles who have managed our leisure and culture services for the last ten years.
“The last twelve months have been very challenging for all of us and, in particular, our leisure provider - with the pandemic severely impacting on their income.
“The health and wellbeing of our residents is to become particularly important due to the impact of lockdowns and it was essential that this Council provides the necessary financial support to ensure our leisure and cultural facilities are there for our residents as soon as the Government allows.
“We are delighted to be working with Inspiring healthy lifestyles on a new plan to support our communities to be fitter and healthier once restrictions are lifted and to provide the opportunities that our residents can once more have healthy and active lifestyles.
“As we come out of this Covid crisis, it is imperative – more than ever before - that we provide ways to create healthier and more resilient communities.”
Pete Burt, Managing Director of Inspiring healthy lifestyles, said: “It will take a long time to evaluate the impact Covid-19 has had on the nation’s health but we know that helping people suffering from the effects of long-Covid and encouraging people to get back into the habit of regularly exercising, following months of restrictions and lockdowns is a key priority for Cannock Chase Council.
“We are committed to supporting our partners locally and recognise the importance of improving public health across the districts. Currently finalising the details of plans with council officers, we look forward to providing a wide range of Covid-safe services and activities.”