Funding boost for free Leeds sports scheme which helps thousands stay healthy

Coun Lisa Mulherin

Coun Lisa Mulherin

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A SCHEME which is providing more than 75,000 people free access to sports activities in Leeds is set to continue until at least November despite government cuts to public health projects.

The popular Leeds Let’s Get Active (LLGA) scheme has received additional funding from the South and East Clinical Commissioning Group

LLGA has been providing free access to leisure centre and community sports and activities since September 2013, .

It offers sports and activities including dance and cycling, health walks and mums and babies sessions.

Users have the chance to have at least an hour each day, seven days per week and more offered at four centres based in the more deprived parts of the city.

More than 75,000 people are registered to take part in LLGA and there has been more than 350,000 visits to the city’s leisure centres recorded from the scheme,

The government’s announcement of multi-million pound cuts to public health funding in 2015 meant that funding to support the initiative was no longer available.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We know that prevention pays long term dividends for health and physical activity is a key part of this. So I am really pleased we have funding which will mean we can get the evidence to demonstrate the value of Leeds Let’s Get Active to the people of the city.

“Leeds has a great record for encouraging people to get active and this scheme has helped many of those who can benefit most from extra activity. The reaction to LLGA has been really positive across the city, with people of all ages taking the opportunity to exercise and have fun in many of the classes that we have offered at our leisure centres as part of the scheme.

“At a time when money is so tight across the health and care system, it has been difficult for partners across the city to find ways to make up the shortfall caused by the government’s public health cuts, and I am grateful that they have done so. It is a great example of the cooperation we are seeing across Leeds to help improve health and wellbeing.”

Matt Ward, NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group chief operating officer, said: “With over 75,000 now registered to take part in LLGA and over 350,000 visits to the city’s leisure centres recorded from the scheme, it is clearly having an impact. Although we have many calls on our funds, we decided that it was right to invest in making sure LLGA continues and its benefits are properly evaluated.

“Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of global mortality and causes a significant burden on healthcare costs and the economy. The cost to Leeds alone is estimated to be £10.1 million per year. Ultimately if we can change the behaviour of inactive people and help them lead a more active lifestyle, then their health will improve and costs to the NHS will decrease.”

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