How the Nottinghamshire Free Leisure for Care Leavers was created

created by Andy Carolan published on 23 September 2021

 

We have asked Andy Carolan, Managing Director of Active 4 Today to write a blog about how we created the free leisure access for care leavers in Nottinghamshire across 7 District Councils as part of the first Joint Local Offer in England. This is the Leisure offer.

 

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE CARE LEAVERS LEISURE OFFER:

 

When asked by Terry Galloway to be involved in developing a Nottinghamshire wide Care Leavers offer, I was delighted to be involved and hopefully make a positive change to a young person’s future.

 

The proposal developed coordinated a joint offer across the County, in order to provide continuity for those young people leaving care.

 

The joint approach was developed so one consistent message would be sent out to the young person, which hopefully provide equity and fairness for the individuals involved. It would remove the potential issue of a ‘postcode’ lottery, which may occur if individual local authorities, offered localised packages.

 

The proposal which was adopted by all Nottinghamshire Local Authorities and their Leisure Providers, provided free access to leisure centre facilities across the county, for young people leaving care between the ages of 18 – 25. The care leaver would access the offer during any time between the ages set out above, with a review period after each 12 month period, to ensure the young person was still attending the facilities and reaching the goals which they aspired to.  

 

PROCESS:

 

The process was simple; to start the ball rolling, the young person could approach the leisure centres direct or through their case worker. The case worker would then provide written communication (this could be an email, template letter or in the event it is a large organisation, a designated portal) that the young person was part of the Care Leavers scheme and the offer could begin.

 

Once the communication has been received, the person was contacted by the leisure provider and invited in for a customer consultation and explanation of the scheme (this typically explains what can be accessed by the customer, whilst assessing the needs of them; a meet and greet opportunity as some customers may not be comfortable with the leisure centre environment).

 

In the event the young person wanted to access the service immediately, this initial meeting was followed by an induction into the fitness suite, if this was the activity that the customer wished to access. In addition to the meet and greet process, there was an opportunity to involve a health worker or health advisor if this approach is more favoured by the organisation (further support for the young person).  

 

During the consultation and after explanation of the scheme, the customer is issues with a membership card that gives access for a 12 month period (reviewed annually) to:

 

  • Unlimited use of the fitness suite
  • Unlimited use of public swimming
  • Unlimited use of classes

 

The offer allows access to all leisure facilities within the operators governance e.g. they may have more leisure centres than just one.   

 

As stated above, after the 12 month period the customer would be subject to a review process with a trained advisor and subject to a satisfactory review (they are still using the facility and want to continue to use it) the membership is renewed. In addition, this review allows for any further support to be discussed with the customer. This process is then continued annually and until the age of 25.

 

I really hope this overview provides assistance for any other local authority thinking of developing this type of scheme. Although only a small part of the Care Leavers package, we believe this is a very important one and assists with mental health, confidence building and valuable social interaction, as well as hopefully having fun.

 

If you need any further help or wish to discuss this, please do not hesitate to contact andy on: andy.carolan@active4today.co.uk or Terry Galloway.