Rochdale will continue to offer serving armed forces personnel free use of Link4Life fitness facilities and swimming pools to the end of 2014.
Following a successful pilot, Link4Life which manages leisure and cultural facilities on behalf of Rochdale Borough Council have also decided to extend the offer to local veterans who are out of work.
Serving Armed Forces personnel and unemployed veterans can use Rochdale Leisure Centre, Middleton Arena, Littleborough Sports Centre, Heywood Sports Village, Bowlee Park Sports Centre and Castleton Swimming pool free of charge.
Over the last five months, 125 military personnel have taken up the offer, with two out of three people using the facilities more than twice a week, resulting in nearly 1,100 visits. The response has been extremely positive said Link4Life’s Business Development Manager, Chris Coleman:
“Eight out of ten users told us the activities have contributed to both physical fitness and mental well-being and the remaining twenty percent feel it has helped with their physical fitness. Everyone said they would like to continue to use Link4Life facilities and would recommend them to friends and family.”
More than half would also be interested in supporting sports activity programmes within the community in the future.
Free access was a key factor in the pilot’s success as one of the top three reasons for taking part, alongside the range of facilities available and the location of the centres.
The council and Link4Life both signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in 2012, aimed at encouraging local communities to support services that promote and encourage activities that help integrate armed forces personnel back into civilian life.
Gillian Bishop, Interim Chief Executive at Link4Life said: “It gives me great pleasure to announce the decision of the board to extend this popular scheme and it is good to see the benefits it has brought to those service men and women taking part. It is right that we extend this to non-serving personnel who are trying hard to reintegrate themselves back into civilian life.”
Councillor Alan McCarthy, Lead Member for the Armed Forces at Rochdale Borough Council said: “The figures speak for themselves and Link4Life’s decision to extend free use in this way is a real testament to the support that we and our partners are giving to local service men and women. The information we now have about those accessing these services will help to improve our knowledge about our armed forces families and enable us to build on this success.”
Details of free fitness can be found at www.link4life.org/activities/armedforces or from any Link4Life centre.
The council has already received national recognition for its work with armed forces from the Royal British Legion and the Ministry of Defence and is acknowledged as a leading organisation in this field.
Details of free fitness services available can be found on the Link4Life website at www.link4life.org/armedforces or can be obtained from any of the participating centres listed.
Current or ex Armed Forces personnel can register for help by visiting www.rochdale.gov.uk/armedforces and if they encounter difficulties when accessing services from the council or its partners, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces. Community Covenants are intended to complement, at local level, the Armed Forces Covenant, and to illustrate support between a civilian community and its local military community.
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