Take the ‘ouch’ of being couch potato with community leisure opportunities

“A COMMUNITY more active, more often,” is the aim of Oldham’s leisure chief.

And Stuart Lockwood, chief executive of Oldham Community Leisure, whose responsibilities include the running of Royton Leisure Centre, is keen to ensure residents can choose from the widest choice of activities to suit every capability. “We realise some people find leisure centres intimidating,” says Stuart, OCL’s chief executive since 2011 and a leisure industry sector worker for more than 25 years.

“So, we’re working to be more proactive in developing programmes that help those people to take their own first steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

“The new sites, Oldham Leisure Centre and Royton Leisure Centre, are terrific. But getting residents active is about more than just new leisure centres. We have to think outside conventional boxes.”

OCL is a non-profit leisure trust responsible for seven leisure facilities, as well as numerous fitness events and health improvement programmes across Oldham.

With OCL highlighted in the 2019 Parliamentary Review as a community business leading the way in encouraging healthy lifestyles, Stuart explained how the trust is evolving.

He said: “Our job is to improve the health, wellbeing and physical activity levels of all Oldham residents. Our mission statement is ‘a community more active, more often.’

“The Council provided more than £23 million for improving the leisure estate and OCL has also invested heavily in the facilities and infrastructure to improve customer experience.”

The Milltown Race series, which attracted over 800 participants last year, promotes physical activity.

He added: “We run beginners’ Couch to 5K sessions at the Radclyffe Athletics Centre, Hunt Lane, Chadderton for people who aren’t yet confident enough to enter a race.

“And we also helped fund the set up and launch of Saddleworth’s Junior Parkrun which recently held its 50th event and now attracts 36 young runners on average per week.

“For me, OCL is about encouraging Oldham residents into whatever activity suits them, at whatever level they can manage.

“The benefit of our business model is we re-invest surpluses into subsidising targeted programmes that really help inactive people make a lifestyle change, like our GP referral.”

Last year OCL facilities had 1.4 million visits, teaching more than 4,000 children to swim every week and to encourage inactive adults and they gave away 3,300 free adult swimming lessons.

For more details visit https://oclactive.co.uk

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