A cost or an investment? June Peebles, CEO at Edinburgh Leisure asks you to consider

Edinburgh Leisure | Monday 5th December 2022 2:45pm

A cost or an investment?

These are difficult times. We emerge from a global pandemic only to be confronted with a number of new challenges: rocketing energy costs, unprecedented increases in the cost of living, real-term reductions in public sector budgets, poverty on the rise, strikes…

In such challenging circumstances looking after our health and well-being takes on even more importance and being and staying active helps us all do just that.

Regular physical activity provides a range of physical, mental, social, environmental and economic benefits: reducing the risk of many long term conditions, managing existing conditions, maintaining musculoskeletal; health, developing and maintaining physical and mental function, enabling people to retain independence in later life, supporting social inclusion, helping maintain a healthy weight and reducing inequalities, particularly for people with long term conditions” *

*extract from the paper: The Positive Contribution of Physical Activity and Sport to Scotland, produced by Public Health Scotland, sportscotland and COSLA.


Thank you for choosing to be active with Edinburgh Leisure, not only are you investing in your health and well-being you’re also helping to boost the wellbeing of the whole city. Every penny you spend with Edinburgh Leisure helps more people to be active.


The current economic climate is undoubtedly challenging and the future is uncertain. At Edinburgh Leisure we’re responding and adapting as best we can to maintain our services but, looking ahead, there is a serious threat to the viability of charitable public leisure services in Scotland, including Edinburgh Leisure’s venues and services.  This threat translates into a threat to the health and well-being of Scotland’s population.


Whilst the outlook for 2023/24 and beyond is certainly bumpy what helps me and my team is knowing that by supporting people to be active, we make a positive difference to so many lives.


Our Active Communities projects play a significant role in supporting some of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable people to improve their levels of activity and, in many cases, reducing the impact on health and social care services. Demand for these services has increased (as compared to pre-COVID-19) and we continue to explore partnership and funding opportunities to enable us to support even more people to be active. To date, we have also supported over 2,000 Ukrainian refugees to be active in our venues. We’ve received much positive feedback from our Ukrainian customers about how welcomed they have felt and the difference that access to physical activity has made to them. The feedback below says it all.


“Thank you Edinburgh Leisure, for your support and help. I cry from your kindness”


A key component of the success of the Active Communities projects is our cohort of volunteers - a committed group of people who enjoy being active and enjoy helping others to be active. If volunteering is something you have considered, please click here to head to Edinburgh Leisure’s website for more information.


Aside from the financial challenges, like many industries, recruiting enthusiastic people, who are passionate about working with others and making a positive impact, is also challenging. We have been unable to offer the same number of coaching places as we did pre COVID-19 and, due to a shortage of teachers, we had to take the regrettable decision to pause our swim coaching programme at Glenogle Swim Centre and reduce the programme at Dalry Swim Centre. We are taking many initiatives to address the situation and if you know of any jobseekers or individuals looking for a career change, please click here to visit the careers pages of the Edinburgh Leisure website.


We have on occasion also had to cancel an activity session or close a venue due to staff shortages. Please accept my apologies if your Edinburgh Leisure experience has been adversely impacted by some of these staffing challenges. 

Once again thank you for your support in 2022. As we move into the new year, please continue to invest in your own well-being and that of your family and friends. While the future may not look so bright, it’s proven that moving gives us an endorphin rush, along with enormous health benefits, so let’s be active and have hope!


I frequently comfort myself with the words ‘there is always hope’ and I continue to hope the UK and the Scottish Government recognise that Edinburgh Leisure and other public leisure services are an investment and not a cost and take action to protect these valuable services.


Have a healthy and peaceful festive time.


Kind regards

June Peebles, Chief Executive

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