Big Swim Day highlights plight of UK’s swimming pools
A string of Olympic medalists put their weight behind a day of action highlighting the crippling impact of energy costs on community swimming pools across the UK.
Message Matters is working with Community Leisure UK (CLUK) as it calls on the UK Government to rethink its decision not to class the leisure sector as vulnerable and provide relief on its power bills – putting many at risk of closure.
We are supporting the organisation, which represents the operators of 880 pools across England, Scotland and Wales, with public relations and public affairs work.
It has included the promotion of Big Swim Day, which took place on February 24th and saw people visit community pools across the country to show their support and highlight the incredible issues that leisure trusts face.
The day of action was supported by Great Britain Olympic medal-winning swimmers Duncan Goodhew and Andy Jameson and diver Leon Taylor.
They responded to broadcast media request across the country, as well as posting messages online, with #BigSwimDay trending on social media.
Goodhew, who won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, said: “This is make-or-break time for an alarming number of swimming pools across the UK. It’s madness that the Government doesn’t seem able to see the danger they are in.
“Without pools and leisure centres being classed as vulnerable, the astronomical energy price hikes their operators face will sadly be the final fatal blow for many.”
Jameson, a bronze medalist at Seoul 1988 who now works as a broadcaster and swimming commentator, added: “Local swimming pools are critical to communities as a place where everyone can learn crucial life skills, skills that could be lost for a generation if financial support isn’t available.”
Working with sporting stars, CLUK and its members, we were successful in triggering national and regional coverage, including a series of BBC local radio interviews – including those in Merseyside and Scotland – commercial radio interviews, a feature on ITV Calendar in Yorkshire, and newspaper pieces including those via the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, National World, the Yorkshire Post, The National, Stoke Sentinel and Kent Messenger.
Big Swim Day highlighted internal CLUK research which found that up to half of the UK’s community swimming pools face closure or service cuts within six months – placing thousands of jobs at risk – unless the Government steps in with support to pay energy bills.
Our political and media work with CLUK continues.