Safety of its customers and staff remains the top priority for High Life Highland as the Charity anticipates the Scottish Government’s confirmation that the country’s restrictions will be reduced on 26 April.
As the Highland Charity prepares to bring many employees back from furlough leave, Director of Sport and Leisure, Douglas Wilby said, “Our teams across our nine services are prepared and waiting for the announcement confirming the move from Level 4 to Level 3.
“We are ready for the First Minister’s final announcement that will give the ‘green light’ to the respective sections to start delivering activities and services to the communities across the Highlands.
Mr Wilby explained, “Our leisure teams have been providing outdoor classes since last month, which due to popularity have seen additional classes added. These sessions will continue until the 17th May, which is the expected date when it is hoped our indoor class programme can be resumed.
“In the meantime, leisure centres and swimming pools will reopen, on a pre-booking system on 26th April. Customers and members can participate in swimming, attending the gym and children’s activities, such as swimming lessons.
Douglas Wilby went on to detail the other services that are being reopened, “Our visitor attractions such Ben Nevis Visitor Centre and Inverness Botanic Gardens will reopen to the public on 26th April – and although numbers will be controlled, no booking will be required for these locations.
“The outdoor teams, that include our Countryside Rangers will be brought back on a phased approach from 4th May and will be focussing on the development of the summer programme, in which children can participate during the school holidays.”
John West, Director of Culture and Learning recognised the work of the Charity’s cultural, learning, and support services and the amount of effort and dedication demonstrated by colleagues.
Mr West commented, “I am delighted that we are able to reintroduce our ‘tried and tested’ system of ‘click and collect’ from local libraries across the Highlands, meaning members of the community will once again get access to physical book borrowing from 26th April.
“The following day, our archive services across the Highlands will resume, with services such as family history consultations already bookable online. The Inverness museum will also reopen on 27th April with the Highland Folk Museum opening shortly afterwards in May.”
Although a number of staff are returning to their respective roles, having been placed on furlough leave at the start of the second lockdown, the Director of Culture and Learning recognised the work of those who have continued to work throughout the pandemic.
He said, “We’ve had a high proportion of staff who have supported the delivery of services to customers throughout the lockdown period. These have included our sport, youth and adult education colleagues working with many of the most vulnerable in our communities who may otherwise have been left isolated during the very challenging periods in which we found ourselves.
“Our music instructors have continued to develop new ways of working throughout lockdown to support school pupils in the home learning environment; all of which have been extremely well received by parents.
“We also, of course, have our team of support staff who have worked since March last year to ensure essential back-of-house functions were maintained and ongoing support was available to colleagues.
John West concluded, “We very much look forward to welcoming our High Life Highland customers and members back to access our locations and services in the forthcoming weeks.
“We will continue to implement the various aspects of the Scottish Government’s route-map as we work with colleagues in The Highland Council and NHS Highland to mitigate the spread of the virus and create safe and COVID-free locations across the Highlands.”
The Highland Charity will keep customers and members updated with any further developments through its website and social media channels.