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Council’s scheme to help tackle obesity proving a success

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More than 22,000 people living in the London Borough of Southwark have signed up to the local council’s free swim and gym programme, as the authority tries to help people fight obesity.

To make it easier for people to get active, the scheme gives residents free access to swimming pools and gyms at all Southwark leisure centres, all day on Fridays, as well as on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 2pm.

The scheme is being rolled out after a successful pilot for under 18s and over 60s, which was launched in May 2015. The pilot resulted in 11,000 people signing up. A further 11,000 have signed up since the programme was rolled out to all locals at the beginning of July. The scheme is available to disabled residents seven days a week at the leisure centres.

In Southwark, 55% of adults are considered either overweight or obese, with the percentage falling to 42% among 11 year olds in the borough, 9.5% higher than the national average. Public Health evidence shows that getting into healthier habits early in life delivers the best results.

Councillor Maisie Anderson, cabinet member for public health, parks and leisure, said: “With busy lifestyles, the rise of technology and the cost of living - getting fit is not easy. This scheme is a fantastic way of addressing the cost barrier that holds many people back. While it’s not the whole picture, I hope it will be the kick start that many people need to get active.”

She continued: "Many councils are finding it harder to fund schemes to tackle obesity and inactivity. While it’s been a challenge to deliver in the face of rising cuts, I am really proud of the work we have done on our new leisure contract that means this scheme will not cost the council much needed funds."

Southwark Council runs six leisure centres, as well as athletics and watersports centres, in the borough.

Since the beginning of August Southwark Council has also extended its opening hours to 10pm to give people more time to swim and use the gym for free.

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More than 22,000 people living in the London Borough of Southwark have signed up to the local council’s free swim and gym programme, as the authority tries to help people fight obesity.
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Dulwich Leisure Centre offers free swim and gym use for locals
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