Young people in Wolverhampton can continue to swim for free in local pools after health chiefs agreed to continue funding a scheme which has benefitted thousands of children since 2009.

They say extending the popular scheme for a further 12 months will enable more young people to take part in regular physical activity - and in turn help tackle obesity among children in the city.

As a result children aged between 8 and 16 who live in Wolverhampton can continue to swim for free during public sessions at Central Baths, the Bert Williams Leisure Centre and Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre until at least 31 March, 2015.

It also means that all children and young people aged 16 and under who live in Wolverhampton can swim for free in the city's pools, as there is no charge for under 8s.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Wolverhampton, said: "Taking part in regular activities is essential for improving people's health and well being, whether they are young or old.

"We are particularly aware that childhood obesity is a problem in Wolverhampton and is leaving young people at greater risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes in later life. We are determined to do all we can to help children become more active and the free swimming programme is an important part of this."

The scheme was launched nationally in 2009 thanks to Government funding. That funding ended a year later but since then the council has met the cost to enable it to continue in Wolverhampton.

Around 8,500 young people aged 8 to 16 currently have free swimming cards and they enjoyed more than 23,000 free swims at Central Baths, Bert Williams Leisure Centre and Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre between April 2013 and February 2014.

Councillor Elias Mattu, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said: "I'm delighted that, despite the massive financial challenge the council is facing, we are still able to support this hugely valuable scheme which meets one of our priorities, to keep our young people fit and healthy.

"Swimming is a great form of exercise and we hope that, by starting when they are young, people will be encouraged to continue enjoying swimming throughout adulthood.

"I would therefore urge children and young people who don't already have a free swimming pass to sign up as soon as possible."

To take advantage of the offer, young people aged between eight and 16 need a free swimming card, available at any of the city's pools or online.

Completed forms must be returned in person, with proof of residency and the signature of a parent or guardian, to one of the pools. For more information, please log on to Type=articles;Articleid=2260;Title=Under 17 free swimming; or call 01902 556220.

Please note that swimming is automatically free for children aged 7 or under.

  • released: Monday 17 March, 2014