High Life Highland’s Chair, Ian Ross, has publicly welcomed the partnership approach adopted between the Highland Charity and The Highland Council in securing public access to the community facilities located in schools across the region.
Speaking following the agreement being reached, the Charity Chair said, “Since the start of the pandemic in March, the phrase, ‘we are all in this together’ may have become somewhat overused; however, the arrangements that HLH has managed to reach in discussion with colleagues in The Highland Council demonstrates it is every bit as accurate today as it was six months ago”.
“The Board and I fully appreciate and support the Council’s decision to limit non-school staff entering schools and prioritising the safety of pupils as they returned to full-time education. However, I am extremely pleased that we have agreement whereby HLH will now start discussions with individual Head Teachers that will enable our staff to access the school estate and commence the process of preparing the community sites which had been temporarily “reserved” for educational purposes”.
“On this basis, I understand our staff will be granted access starting next week, and we are therefore looking forward to being able to have all HLH leisure, swimming and fitness sites opening over the first few of weeks of September.”
On the back of Ms Sturgeon’s announcement, which brought the reopening of indoor leisure centres and pools forward by two weeks; talks were accelerated between both the Charity and Local Authority to consider ways in which the public could gain access to community facilities located within school premises.
The Charity confirmed that all other leisure centres and swimming pools will reopen to the public on 31st August and joint school and community sites would start to reopen by early-September.
Highland Councillor John Finlayson, Chair of the Education Committee said, “The Council’s primary focus for the school estate was to get pupils safely back in the buildings and returning to full-time education. However, the Council was also fully aware of the importance around communities gaining access to local leisure and recreation facilities in order to support individual physical and mental health and wellbeing”.
“I am pleased that The Highland Council have been able to work with colleagues in High Life Highland in order to enable the necessary arrangements to be made giving its staff access to schools. This will therefore allow highlife cardholders and customers to safely access community facilities located in schools.”
Concluding, Ian Ross, High Life Highland Chair said, “We are aware that such a long period of absence away from indoor physical activity has been a challenge for some, including many of the most vulnerable in our communities. Therefore, I would thank The Highland Council for working with us to support and enable the Charity in restoring some levels of normality to many individuals and families across the Highlands.”
Customers will be required to use an online booking system to access all indoor leisure and recreation activities. Further details can be found on highlifehighland.com or local leisure centre social media pages.