Perdiswell Leisure Centre, operated by Freedom Leisure on behalf of Worcester City Council, has just been awarded the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) mark for its facilities, making it the only centre in Worcester and one of only seven in the West Midlands to hold this accreditation.
The IFI is a programme run by the English Federation of Disability Sport and is designed to offer disabled people more choice and opportunities to enjoy the benefits of physical activity.
The IFI has been established for many years, supporting leisure centres to become more welcoming and accessible environments to disabled people. Currently 56 facilities across the country hold the IFI Mark accreditation, which takes into consideration points such as: fitness equipment, accessibility, widening participation opportunities, staff training and marketing and engagement.
Perdiswell Leisure Centre was audited and scored well. Just a few of its features include: extensive disabled parking, full centre wheelchair access, reception area suited to many users, especially those with hearing impairments, dementia and using wheelchairs. In addition assistance dogs are welcome and for those with visual impairments, colour contrasting themes and areas run through the centre with braille signage throughout.
When it comes to swimming both the centre’s pools have pod access – allowing easy access for people in wheelchairs - and there are dedicated changing facilities which open directly on to the pool side, with additional accessible changing rooms in the main changing area. The centre also offers fully inclusive swimming sessions and a provision for wheelchair spectators.
Rob Tyler with Cllr Mike Johnson, Chair of Worcester City Council’s Communities Committee, trying out a Krank hand cycle bike.
We are over the moon to have been formally IFI accredited by the English Federation of Disability Sport. Freedom Leisure is proud to be delivering high quality, locally-focused services which support our client’s objectives – to enable more people to be more active.Rob Tyler, Freedom Leisure Centre Manager
In the fitness suite the gym has an extensive range of fully inclusive equipment, including wheel accessible machines; kit enhanced for those with visual impairments; and specialist items catering for very specific needs. The indoor cycling studio also boasts inclusive Krankcycle® hand cycle bikes – one of very few studios to enable people with lower body mobility issues to experience indoor cycling exercise classes.
Rob Tyler, Freedom Leisure Centre Manager, says: “We are over the moon to have been formally IFI accredited by the English Federation of Disability Sport. Freedom Leisure is proud to be delivering high quality, locally-focused services which support our client’s objectives – to enable more people to be more active.
“Among the many comments by the assessors, the one which stood out was that we had helpful, friendly staff who are disability-aware and have a positive and welcoming attitude to inclusion. I’d very much like to take the opportunity to thank our team for their huge concerted effort to help the centre become a great place for all. This accreditation is awarded for three years only, so we are already thinking about how we can develop further so we can maintain it and perhaps even improve on our current score. But our main focus now is to let locals with disabilities know about what is on offer here at the centre – we are especially keen to see the Krankcycles® in the indoor cycling studio utilised, so this is a call out for those who are keen to come and try them!”
Councillor Mike Johnson, Chair of Worcester City Council’s Communities Committee, said: “It’s our ambition for Worcester to become a beacon for accessible and inclusive sports, and Worcester City Council’s revamp of Perdiswell Leisure Centre was always planned with accessibility in mind. It was a top priority for our project team. I’m delighted that our efforts, and the on-going work of Freedom Leisure, has been recognised with IFI accreditation.”