FAMILIES affected by the Covid pandemic have been able to access leisure facilities thanks to funding issued to Dalton Leisure Centre.
The independent, trustee-run centre, in Chapel Street, Dalton, received a grant of £10,500 from Barrow Borough Council’s Covid Hardship Fund.
This award has been used to provide free membership passes to 25 families in the area who have been adversely affected by the ongoing crisis by furlough or loss of employment.
The scheme aims to ensure families can continue to use the swimming pool and sports facilities despite the economic hardships created during the pandemic.
Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “We know the pandemic has worsened inequality across our communities, also leaving some people struggling for the first time in their lives.
“The council used some of its emergency funding from Government to create a Covid Hardship Fund last year - to provide direct help to residents across the borough.
“So far it has provided laptops and WiFi for schoolchildren during lockdown as well as uniforms, activities during school holidays and Christmas presents for families who could not afford them this year.
“This scheme is helping to make sure cost is not a barrier to allowing families to spend quality time together while looking after their health and wellbeing.
“It’s an excellent use of the Hardship Fund and has provided a huge benefit to the local community.”
Barrow Borough Council set aside £250,000 in grant funding to help vulnerable children, young people and residents across the borough who had been adversely affected by Covid-19.
The money has been used to provide holiday activities for school children, to make sure pupils had access to a laptop and WiFi for home schooling and to fund one off exceptional circumstances such as fuel bills during the winter months, travel, funeral expenses and the purchase of white goods.
An award of £10,500 was subsequently made to Dalton Leisure Centre to launch the free membership scheme to help hard-hit families.
A referral system was introduced so that schools and local organisations could put families forward for a pass under the new scheme.
It was open to families with a Dalton postcode who had suffered financial hardship because of the pandemic, providing free access for two people over 16 and up to three children aged between three and 15-years-old.
Now, BAE Systems is to fund a further seven family passes so that additional help is available for anyone referred.
Shaun Fisher, of Dalton Leisure Centre, said the free passes had brought families into the centre who had never had a chance to use it before.
“Being able to launch this scheme using the grant from the council’s hardship fund has shown just how much difference the leisure centre can make to the community. We’re also very grateful for the additional passes that have been funded by BAE.
“It is wonderful to be able to have the opportunity to give back through this scheme. We are there to support local people just as they have supported us.
“We know things have been incredibly difficult for those who have been referred to us. Now we have some very happy, smiley children using the pool - some are even learning to swim for the first time, which we know is a lifelong, valuable skill - not to mention the benefits of being able to spend time having fun as a family.”
Emma Broadbent, Active Cumbria development officer, said: “Dalton Leisure Centre really is a place of welcome and to be able to give people who are struggling some quality time to spend being physically active and focusing on themselves has been much needed.”