After four months of home workouts and solo training, 87 percent of UK gym-goers are eager to resume their memberships. The Wimbledon Foundation celebrates the reopening of fitness centres with their Get Set, Get Active Fund, supporting local communities in making the most of the new rules.
As of July 25 2020, England’s leisure services, including gyms and pools, have thrown open their doors. With the days of the one hour of outdoor activity threshold long gone, local charities dedicated to sports development, like The Wimbledon Foundation, are continuing to provide support for communities impacted by the pandemic, combining the use of facilities, resources, and grants to aid the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts across society.
Government guidance on safe returns to indoor gyms includes ensuring everyone arriving in sports kit, avoiding the use of changing rooms, and maintaining distance between pieces of equipment. Many gyms make sure each user has their temperature taken before entry, sanitisation stations are a-plenty, and signage has been put in place to allow users to get the most out of their workout without crossing paths with others. And although reports have already shown that the gym experience is far from what it was pre-lockdown, significant steps towards once again reaping the benefits of an active lifestyle.
Much more than physical fitness
“Sport not only improves people’s physical wellbeing; it can help improve people’s mental wellbeing through learning a new skill or making new friends. In line with our goal to support healthy and active lives, we want to support the fantastic work being done by local groups and clubs as they start up again and continue helping to improve people’s lives in our local community,” says Helen Parker, Head of the Wimbledon Foundation.
The Get Set, Get Active Fund, launched in 2016, aims to help local people of all ages and abilities to do just that, with grants awarded to local projects designed to help improve the health and wellbeing of local residents through access to community sports. The Wimbledon Foundation, the charity of The All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships, has so far awarded grants totaling over £65,000.
Covering interests varying from rollerblading for young people to chair-based exercise classes for local residents over 60, grants have recently been awarded to groups and clubs active in Merton and Wandsworth.
Inclusivity in sports
According to the Office for Disability Issues, the UK is home to over 11 million people with a disability, the most common of which are those affecting mobility. With 11 percent of all adults with disabilities being based in London, The Wimbledon Foundation encourages applications from organisations tackling social problems and helping people facing disadvantages to improve their quality of life.
Disability Sports Coach plan to use their Get Set, Get Active grant to run a weekly sports club for disabled people in Wandsworth, offering activities like tennis, basketball, and football. “Only 17 percent of disabled people play sport once a week – half as much as non-disabled people. Our club in Wandsworth is one of our longest running. We’re proud to have reached hundreds of disabled people across the borough, including Alexandra, who hadn’t missed a session in two years before the club was forced to close in the lockdown. The Foundation’s support means that, when safe, we can reopen and continue to provide this vital hub,” says Peter Ackred, Chief Executive of Disability Sports Coach.
Share Community, on the other hand, are using their grant to run specialist therapeutic movement and dance activities for adults with learning disabilities and autism, while Ethnic Minority Centre will run swimming sessions for older people from BAME communities. Through working with initiatives like the Merton Schools Sports Partnership’s Top-Up and Enable Leisure & Culture’s Girls Active project, The Wimbledon Foundation is continuously making a difference in our little corner of the world.