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'Councils must back leisure and cultural trusts'

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Sporta, the membership body representing leisure and cultural trusts, has rebranded to Community Leisure UK.

The name change is part of a shift to a sharper proposition that aims to help charitable trusts and social enterprises – which manage 43% of public leisure provision in England – and local authorities engage more stakeholders locally and nationally to support public leisure services.

The trusts have evolved from organisations set up to manage facilities – and save money – into key community anchors, developing services and finding better solutions to local challenges.

From helping people of various ages and circumstances, to finding new, supported routes to mental and physical activity, trusts are reshaping services and sharing successes to meet local objectives.

Ultimately, trusts are helping people engage and be involved, whether that is having a health check, drinking a coffee in a warm space, going for a swim, taking a walk, borrowing a library book or joining a gym.

If we are to improve the health and resilience of our communities it is vital that trusts play a part in long-term community planning, allowing local authorities, policymakers and their partners to tap into their desire, ability and experience.

Often created by local authorities, the charitable trust model is unique. It has helped protect public services in tough economic times, ensuring every penny of income goes back in to those community services. Our research has shown ringfenced and reinvested income is vital to elected officials and the public.

Trusts are different to private companies with a charitable body, which often promise lower costs, higher value, scale and access to capital. We are wholly transparent and independent with no external controlling body or structure.

Community Leisure UK is working closely with local and national government, influencers, policymakers and external partners to highlight trusts’ mechanics and abilities.

If we want public leisure and cultural facilities and services to still be there in ten years, policy and decisionmakers need to support local authorities and community leisure trusts to protect and invest in those services.

It’s about more than financial investment. It is about building a true, transparent, outcomes-based and long-term partnership.

If you think we can help you to know more about the public leisure landscape or the charitable trust model, please do get in touch with us. We would be happy to help.

Cate Atwater, chief executive, Community Leisure UK

Column sponsored and supplied by Community Leisure UK

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