Southwark Council to pilot free leisure access for young and old
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Southwark Council to pilot free leisure access for young and old

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Southwark Council is to offer free leisure access to under 18s and over 60s as the south London authority bids to make good on its pledge to provide free swim and gym access to all residents.

The council has been particularly proactive in promoting wellbeing among residents, investing almost £50m in leisure facilities in the borough over the past decade. It has also provided free school meals to all primary school children since 2011 to encourage healthy eating habits from an early age, now also providing free fruit snacks at break times.

For its latest initiative, the council will embark on a new pilot whereby residents aged 18 and under will be given free access to swim and gym facilities on Fridays and weekend afternoons from May. Meanwhile, the borough’s over 60s will get free swimming sessions and will also pay nothing for access to gyms at Southwark leisure centres for two hours a day, seven days a week.

"Last year, we pledged to offer free swim and gym access to all residents. While only in the pilot stages, we want to ensure we are providing for the groups most in need, as well as testing out the system,” said Cllr Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for public health, parks and leisure.

“This is why we are also including over 60s in the pilot, ahead of the general roll out of the programme next summer.

"Increased physical activity is not only a useful tool to encourage healthier lifestyle habits for all and combat weight related diseases, but it is also a great way to look after all-round wellbeing, giving you energy for all areas of your life."

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