Agenda item

Presentation by Martin Miles and Chris Duncan from Everyone Active.


The Chairman welcomed to the meeting Martin Miles, Regional Contract Manager, and Chris Duncan, Regional Wellbeing Manager, from Everyone Active. The Committee heard that their presentation would cover aspects of maintenance and cleanliness at the Gainsborough Leisure Centre, followed by a focus on wellbeing, as well as answering questions that had been shared with them prior to the meeting. Questions from Members after the presentation would be welcomed.


Mr Miles explained that the problems described at the Gainsborough Leisure Centre, such as drainage issues in the wet-side changing rooms, had been recognised by the company and there was an agreed list of works and remedial action to begin addressing these areas. A full site inspection had been undertaken, with weekly and monthly walk-arounds also being implemented. It had been necessary to begin a review of suppliers, recognising the preference to use local services but needing to balance that with improving standards which could result in using outside contractors, for example for cleaning and maintenance. The concerns raised by Members, some of whom were Gainsborough residents and detailed their personal experiences of using the swimming pool at the leisure centre, were acknowledged with assurances given that the scheduled repairs, servicing, maintenance and ad hoc works would be prioritised in order to improve the facilities for users. A return visit to the Committee in six months was offered to monitor progress.


Members thanked Mr Miles for recognising the areas that needed addressing and for acknowledging the length of time these issues had been raised by residents and users of the pool. It was hoped there would be some significant improvements seen over coming months.


The Committee then heard from Mr Duncan who explained that, as the country moved out of pandemic restrictions and into a new ‘post-covid normal’, the focus on overall wellbeing and how to engage with communities had changed somewhat from pre-pandemic expectations. There was a need to work collectively, across healthcare, education, local authorities and leisure providers, to encourage lifestyle behaviours to support longer term health and wellbeing. It was recognised that there was now a holistic view to achieve greater societal wellbeing, with organisations such as the NHS and Sports England starting to shape national strategies.


It was explained that, whilst a local Wellbeing Partnership was the aspiration, there was work being undertaken to build a framework which could be used to extend partnership working across the district. Initial engagement was underway with local schools, disabilities groups and care homes, although there were ongoing challenges regarding access to care homes given the continuation of restrictions for them. The Committee also heard there was preparatory work underway with Lincolnshire County Council for improving access to services for care leavers.


Members heard that social prescribing had been introduced in January 2022, with a positive start and increasing use of it, as well as link workers based in the leisure centre to look at wider social aspects for service users, such as financial wellbeing. There had been investment into the Community Wellbeing Hub, which would be used to promote community activities, and it was recognised that there was a need to work closer with local groups and volunteers to communicate what activities were available across the district.


It was acknowledged that funding was a challenge, however with a greater focus on the holistic approach and by working with partner organisations, it was hoped that there would be significant change in both approach and provision across the district. It was emphasised to Members that community engagement, improving access to activities for all, and working with local groups to increase availability of services, was the priority for improving overall wellbeing as the district, and country, emerged post-pandemic.


Questions from the Committee and Visiting Members were invited, with thanks extended to both presenters for the detailed information they provided. Members reiterated the concerns regarding the cleanliness at the Gainsborough leisure centre and it was again confirmed that this was being addressed and improvements would be made. Members were welcoming of the vision for integrated health and social wellbeing services, incorporating the leisure providers as well as more traditional healthcare providers. It was recognised it was aspirational however Members were encouraged by work already underway, for example for care leavers and with the Community Wellbeing Hub.


There was discussion regarding user numbers and how access to facilities could be improved, for example for sports clubs or individuals who weren’t members of the gym. It was recognised that there was scope for the use of, for example the sports hall or pitches, to be reviewed, in light of specific examples provided by Members.


Enquiries were raised regarding the original decision relating to the bowls club at the time the leisure centre was being refurbished. It was explained that the two presenters had not been involved in that decision, however, their focus for future work was to engage with community groups, sports clubs, volunteer activity groups and find a way to enable people to participate at whichever level they felt comfortable. In order to understand provision requirements of a wide scope of the community, there needed to be conversations across all providers of health and social care and leisure provision. There was discussion regarding affordability of services and it was reiterated that there needed to be cohesion across all services, to assist those on limited budgets to be able to afford access to leisure provision as well as recognising the impact of financial hardship on wellbeing. The Community Wellbeing Hub was referenced and the hope for that to become a self-help hub, with relevant groups advertised on the boards and advice information available, as much as a support hub for those who needed it.


In relation to using other community-based facilities, the Vice-Chairman highlighted the difficulties faced by the residents of Newtoft in relation to the leisure centre opened in 2018 and a subsequent lack of support for best use of the facilities. It was recognised that that kind of community facility would be instrumental in building the cross-district vision of community-based health and wellbeing programmes.


Following further discussion regarding the Gainsborough leisure centre, where the offer for the presenters to return to the Committee in the future was reiterated, the Chairman thanked Members for their comments and discussion and, on behalf of the Committee, thanked Mr Miles and Mr Duncan for their time and detailed presentation, and welcomed the positive plans for the future.