'Trailblazers': Children in care to receive free leisure passes

Care leavers at pool

Children in care have been given free access to Havering Council leisure facilities in Romford, Harold Hill and Hornchurch. - Credit: Havering Council

Children in care are being given free access to council-run gyms, swimming pools and all fitness facilities in Havering.

The scheme has been launched by Havering Council and Everyone Active for young people between the ages of 18 to 25.

This comes after the council announced free swimming sessions for children across the borough.

The Health and Beyond leisure pass is available to young people preparing to leave care, who are in foster care or living in residential care.

Chay, who was given a Health and Beyond pass, said: “I currently already have a gym, but it is not advanced like this one.

"This is much better. It has got a wide range of exercises that I can do and it also saves me money as well.

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"It is also better because it will be free.”

Cllr Robert Benham, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for education, children and families, called the scheme an "investment" in young people.

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He said: "We know that exercise is a good all-rounder for improving our physical, emotional and mental health.

“We think it’s vital that young people look after themselves and this is one way that we can encourage them to do so.

“By giving them easier access to our first class facilities, it will allow them to use the swimming pools and gyms, as well as organise their own group activities, so they can work out together."

Everyone Active manager, Tom Fletcher, added: “Everyone Active are extremely pleased that the partnership with Havering Council has enabled the new Health and Beyond pass to become a reality.

"It’s extremely important that we give our young people the opportunity to be active and develop lifelong healthy habits.

"Hopefully these first young trailblazers will pave the way for many more young people to get active.”

Young people will be able to use their passes at Sapphire Ice and Leisure, Romford, Central Park Leisure Centre, Harold Hill and at the new Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre in Hornchurch.

In June, the Hornchurch leisure centre launched a new workout programme with TV personality Dion Dublin.

The facility officially opened in May, five months after it was completed.

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