Your JavaScript has been disabled, please enable your JavaScript to experiance this website to it's fullest!

Making a splash with free swimming for Bedford girls

Nikki Be Active presenting swimmer with certificate bpha Community Engagement Officer Julie Piercey in background

35 girls aged between five and 12 years have taken part in a week of free swimming lessons, thanks to a partnership between Bedford-based Housing Association bpha, Be Active and Sport England. The project aims to give local girls who may not have had access to lessons previously, the opportunity to gain some potentially life-saving skills.

30 sessions took place in total last week at Trinity Arts & Leisure. Parents were invited to apply for a place for girls from local schools, including Shackleton Primary School, King’s Oak Primary School and Queen’s Park Lower School.

bpha’s Community Engagement Team was awarded a £10,000 ‘Inspiring Young Lives Project’ grant’ from Sport England through Be Active, an organisation striving for a ‘healthier and happier Bedfordshire’ by promoting physical activity.

Sport England research (academic year 2022/23) shows that:

  • Girls are less active than boys (44% compared with 51%)
  • Activity levels are lowest for children aged seven to nine (compared with 51% for those aged four to six)
  • Children from the least affluent families are least likely to be active (44% compared with 55% from high family affluence)

Rosetta Triolo, Community Engagement Manager, bpha: “We know from Sport England’s research and feedback from Be Active, that mid-primary age girls from less affluent backgrounds may have fewer opportunities to get involved in swimming than other children. This project is changing that.

“The feedback from those swimming and their guardians has been so positive, and we’ve already been able to confirm a second course for the first week of the summer holidays.

“We aim to work with partners to secure further funding to offer free or subsidised swimming for all, ensuring residents can enjoy swimming in confidence, while getting more physically active.”

Nicky Ward, Children and Young People Officer and Inspiring Young Lives Project Lead: “We are thrilled to be working with bpha to help support the swimming needs of their housing community. The project is a superb example of how collaboration can create a positive impact to improve experiences. Swimming is an essential life skill for children and young people which they will take into adulthood. To see the smiles and laughter on the faces of these young girls has been heartwarming. Our thanks to Trinity Pool and Swim England for their extended support on the programme. We are looking forward to the summer sessions already!”

One young swimmer said: “I felt nervous because I didn’t know what we were going to do but I enjoyed it when I swam halfway across the pool. I feel happy and I think it’s good if everyone knows how to swim!”

This project is the result of partnership working, something that bpha is committed to as part of its aim to develop local communities. If you work for a local organisation and want to find out more about how you could work with bpha, please email [email protected].