Leisure centres and their staff play a critical role in helping us maintain active, healthy lives at all times – a role that’s now been extended to include efforts to combat Covid.
Brough Park Leisure Centre in Leek has joined Biddulph Leisure Centre as a community testing centre for people without Covid symptoms and staff have returned from furlough to run operations.
The centres, provided by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and operated by Parkwood Leisure, are currently unable to open as usual due to the national lockdown.
Councillor Mark Deaville, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Sports, said: “The past year has really brought home the importance of our health to us as individuals but also to those we love, our neighbours and our communities.
“The facilities and staff expertise provided at our leisure centres are always a key part of how the Council supports people to keep active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The role they are now playing in providing community testing is a perfect example of the extra value they bring to taking care of all aspects of our health and wellbeing.
“This is another great example of partnership working. I firmly believe that the best way to defeat this dreadful virus is by working together, looking after each other and looking out for each other.
“Testing is key to breaking the chain of transmission and I’m delighted that, working together, the community and the District and County Councils have provided these facilities. The way our staff have risen to these new challenges is admirable and I’d like to that them for all they are doing to help bring the virus under control in the Moorlands.”
Testing at these sites is for people without symptoms and, whilst people should stay at home except for essential reasons, those who do need to go out are encouraged to get tested.
People can just walk in to get a rapid test, subject to availability, or book a slot online at https://staffordshire.zipporah.co.uk/TrackAndTrace
District Council Leader, Councillor Sybil Ralphs, said: “Around 1 in 3 people who have Covid don’t display symptoms so getting tested is something we can all do to help minimise the risk of passing the infection to those we love and others in our communities.
“We all need to play our part in this and I’m pleased that we have been able to make leisure centres available for this important purpose. Thousands of people in the Moorlands have taken up the offer so far - I thank them for doing so and would urge others to follow their lead.”
Testing has been taking place for several weeks now at Biddulph Leisure Centre with staff being trained to run the service.
Centre Manager Nicky Holford said: “Of course, we’re all looking forward to welcoming everyone back to use our facilities and attend classes when the time is right but, for now, it’s great to be able to open our doors to the public again and feel like we’re doing our bit to get back to normal.
“Our staff have really stepped up to the plate to deliver this service for our communities and I’m very proud of all them.”