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Building better facilities is a priority Sharron Davies, MBE Your article on the employment crisis in the sector (HCM 3 2022, page 54 or www.hcmmag.com/staffing) raised valid points about what needs to be done to address staff shortages. I particularly applaud Jo Cherrett’s call for an honest conversation about the living wage. This especially applies to swimming teachers. Two members of my family have left swimming teacher jobs because of poor pay. With a national shortage of 8,000 swimming teachers (Swim England 2021), addressing pay will go a long way to attracting and retaining these professionals at a time when their skills are needed more than ever. Children have already lost two years of swimming;
we can’t afford for them to miss any more because of a lack of teachers. But let’s also be frank about the condition of our workplaces. So many of our leisure centres are outdated and in a shocking state of disrepair. Staff who work in these centres are constantly having to deal with complaints about faulty equipment, dodgy showers and smelly changing rooms, which is both frustrating and can lead to low morale. Is it any surprise staff get fed up and move on? Some of the UK’s leisure stock is in crisis. A leisure centre where I swam in the 1990s is fighting for its future. Cornwall Council is trying to secure a new operator for Wadebridge
Davies: ‘Pools are lacking investment’
Issue 4 2022 ©Cybertrek 2022
Modern, sustainable buildings are key to redefining the sector Leisure Centre after confirming it’s not in a financial position to provide ongoing funding to keep it open. It has permanently closed Ships and Castles Leisure Centre in Falmouth for the same reason. More than 200 pools have closed since the pandemic and Swim England fears we could lose 2,000 by the end of the decade if we continue on this path. We need facilities that meet the needs of users and provide attractive places to work. Sustainable buildings are key to redefining the sector. This is why I’m an ambassador for Paragon Structures, providers of insulated tensioned membrane buildings. The company was born out of a desire to have a direct impact on health and physical activity by building affordable, yet state-ofthe-art facilities, which is one of the reasons the company was selected as a solution partner by Swim England. As an athlete and sports presenter, I’ve been fortunate to experience some of the best facilities in the world. I believe the UK can offer bright, airy and energy-efficient venues which can be built at a fraction of the cost of traditional buildings and significantly faster too.