Manchester: Balance between elite sport and community access | Wender Mind Kids

Manchester: Balance between elite sport and community access

An ambitious leisure partnership is realizing Manchester’s potential, writes Ian Harkins, GLL’s Manchester services manager. Sponsored comment by GLL.

Elite sport is an integral part of Manchester. Its world-class venues are home to national teams and international events, from the 2002 Commonwealth Games to the 2022 European Taekwondo Championships.

Uniquely, each venue is also open to the public to participate in all of the sports on offer there. Customers can play on the same squash court as Egyptian Hania El Hammamy, cycle the same course as Dame Laura and Sir Jason Kenney, run on the same course as Sir Mo Farah and Keely Hodgkinson – and from 2023 when the Manchester Aquatics Center reopens, swim in the same pool as Ellie Simmonds.

Across the region, Manchester City Council is working with not-for-profit social enterprise GLL to provide leisure services under the MCRactive brand. By bringing local communities to iconic locations, they can try different sports and inspire the next generation of Manchester native talent. Affordable ticket prices reduce barriers to participation and ensure the health and well-being benefits are deeply felt – even in less favored areas.

Schools and universities are invited to our events to find out about careers in their free time.

100 million pounds investment

Our partnership with Manchester City Council sees them investing £100m in the facilities over the next 18 months. This year sees the reopening of the Velodrome Arena at the National Cycling Center and 2023 will see the reopening of the Manchester Aquatics Center following a full refurbishment and the opening of the brand new Abraham Moss Leisure Centre.

Three new neighborhood leisure centers have recently opened in East Manchester: Hough End Leisure Center and Arcadia Library & Leisure Centre, plus a fully refurbished center in Moss Side which now welcomes thousands of customers every day.

Increasing community use is of course a priority for public leisure facilities and GLL’s Better Swim School, the largest in the UK, teaches 5,600 children across the city to swim every week. Membership recovers after pandemic; it currently stands at 55,000 and is expected to increase as the new facilities open.

participation in the community

Combining sports facilities, a medical practice and community organizations under one roof has brought synergy to a model the partnership hopes to replicate elsewhere.

Activating hard-to-reach groups creates social value, including an initiative to include Afro-Caribbean women in swimming lessons, Bame women in weight management, self-help cognitive-behavioral therapy, and holiday activities for neighborhood children. Working with strategic city partners like Sure Start offers young families more options, including pre- and post-natal baby yoga, massage and aqua aerobics as part of the pregnancy and early childhood support services.

Debbie Keary from Sure Start in Manchester recognizes the importance of these activities. “Moss Side Leisure Center offers fun sessions for children and families in state-of-the-art facilities that also focus on physical development, addressing childhood obesity and helping little ones have the best start in life,” she says.

John Hacking (Lab), Executive Member for Skills, Employment and Leisure, adds: “Sport and physical activity are an integral part of Manchester’s DNA.

“As we embark on one of the largest public leisure investments in the UK, it is important to us that our partner shares our vision and can help shape our long-term supply of sport, health, leisure and wellness for all of our residents.

“For nearly 30 years, GLL has been a recognized expert in public recreation with a model that reinvests profits back into local communities, programs and facilities. Our partnership reinforces our strategic priority of expanding access for all and helping the people of Mancun lead healthier, happier lives.”

Mark Sesnan, Managing Director, GLL

The MCRactive partnership combines world-class facilities used by international competitive athletes with popular neighborhood venues that are at the heart of the health and well-being of the local community.

“As a not-for-profit social enterprise, GLL exists to get more people more active, more often, so we are ideally placed to play a meaningful role in expanding opportunity and tackling health inequalities as part of regional and national government agendas.”