A delegation led by senior Parliamentarians recently visited Places for People Leisure's state-of-the-art Graves Leisure Centre. The visit was aimed at exploring how health and exercise programmes can be used to tackle the UK's health crisis.

ukactive Chair and legendary Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson joined Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts and Sport England Property Director Charles Johnston to visit Graves Health and Sports Centre in Sheffield, which is home to the Sheffield National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) and run by Places for People Leisure in partnership with Sheffield City Council.

With physical inactivity currently costing the UK economy £20bn per year and placing increasing strain on the NHS, the delegation explored how the NCSEM project at Graves has integrated health and leisure facilities to manage and prevent major conditions such as heart disease, MSK, type-II diabetes and stroke.

Graves Health and Sports Centre - previously an ageing leisure centre - recently underwent a £16m transformation to become the HQ of the NCSEM combining fitness, swimming and sports facilities with on-site clinical facilities staffed by clinicians, allied health professionals and researchers.

The move has already had a significant impact on public health, with an 82 per cent increase in visitors to the site since it reopened in September, while there has also been a significant jump in the number of people being prescribed tailored exercise programmes at the site for conditions such as cancer, Parkinson's and heart disease.

Baroness Grey-Thompson is leading a ukactive campaign to replicate the success of schemes such as Graves nationwide to get more people, more active, more often. The not-for-profit health body is calling on the Government to engage in a £1bn capital investment programme to transform tired leisure facilities into state-of-the-art community wellness hubs. Co-locating health and leisure services as part of a renewed focus on preventative health would save billions from NHS and social care budgets as the result of a healthier population.

Co-locating leisure, health and other community services

ukactive Chair Baroness Grey-Thompson said,

"Graves Health and Sports Centre is a shining example of how physical activity can be the lynchpin of happier and healthier communities.

"By co-locating leisure, health and other community services, we can remove barriers to physical activity and make wellness hubs the preventative frontline of the NHS."

Top quality leisure facilities

Wheffield South East MP Clive Betts said,

"Sheffield is a leading light in many areas and it's fantastic to see that this extends into the provision of top quality leisure facilities for the local community.

"This forward-thinking integration of public health and leisure services is already paying dividends and I hope that the success of Graves Health and Sports Centre can be the catalyst for the rollout of further wellness hubs across the UK"

Incredible impact

Richard Cowley, Area Manager, Places for People Leisure said,

"The transformation of Graves Health and Sports Centre has had an incredible impact on the community, driving a huge increase in general visits and also exercise referrals.

"The integration of clinical services alongside traditional leisure and sports facilities means there is something for everyone here, however old or healthy you are."

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