Who are we and what are we doing?
Gateshead Council closed Birtley Swimming Centre on Friday 21st July. A project team comprising local community volunteers alongside members of Birtley and Gateshead and Whickham swimming clubs, plans to reopen Birtley Swimming Centre in April 2024 as a Community Asset which will be run by a new not for profit charitable organisation. The activities we are planning will support the physical health and mental well-being of the local community.
Why is reopening Birtley Swimming Centre important?
The benefits of a swimming pool to the local community are significant and wide-ranging:
- Learning to swim is a vital life skill which saves lives.
- Swimming is also a fun activity for children and something families can do together.
- Lane and club swimming provide an opportunity for more intense physical activity.
- Swimming improves health and physical fitness and is a great way to burn calories.
- It works muscles across your entire body, as well as your cardiovascular system.
- It’s a great, low impact activity for people with disabilities, injuries, arthritis and asthma.
- It’s also a safe way for elderly people and pregnant women to exercise.
- Swimming has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.
- It helps alleviate stress and boosts your mood.
- Swimming is still a relatively low cost activity.
If we can’t reopen the Swimming Centre, these benefits will be lost forever in Birtley.
We plan to reopen Birtley Swimming Centre in April 2024
We have already produced and submitted a detailed business case, which has demonstrated to Gateshead Council that Birtley Swimming Centre can be financially viable when run as a community asset. The project team are now working on a more detailed business plan, which will be presented to the Council in early November. We are currently aiming to reopen the pool in April 2024, if our business plan is approved by the Council.
What activities will the available in the centre when it reopens?
We have developed a weekly pool timetable for when we reopen the pool which contains a range of activities to meet the needs of the community. These include:
- Public swimming
- Family swimming
- Lane swimming, including women only sessions
- Disability swimming
- Inflatable fun session
- Pool parties
- Learn to swim for children from 4 years up
- Parent and pre-school child lessons
- Parent and baby classes
- Adult learn to swim and adult improver lessons
- School swimming lessons for local schools
- Club swimming sessions
We plan to reopen the pool seven days a week, from 0715 to 2130 on weekdays and from 0800 to 1500 on weekends. Our pricing for activities will be fair and affordable with a membership option and access to discounted prices.
Below are the current draft timetables for when we reopen the pool.
Funding required to reopen Birtley Swimming Centre
A key part of our business plan will be to raise at least £100,000 which is what we need to reopen the pool. Part of this will be used to pay for capital investment in the pool facilities and infrastructure including the following items:
- New signage for the centre
- Health and safety equipment including spinal boards and a defibrillator
- Pool equipment, including an inflatable obstacle course and swimming aids
- Other fitness equipment including spin cycles for triathletes
- IT equipment including PCs, laptops, printers and a telephony system
- Furniture for the foyer, reception and the staff rooms
- Clothing and communication devices for the employees
- Removal of the slide which is no longer serviceable
The remaining funds will cover some operating expenditure required prior to reopening the pool. This will include the following items:
- Marketing and publicity costs to advertise the activities which will be available
- Buying and setting up the customer booking and payment system and a financial system
- Recruitment costs
- Employing the new team before we reopen, so we can train them and get the centre ready
- Legal costs
We need to raise funds to pay for this expenditure well in advance of the reopening date.
Crowdfunding campaign for Birtley Swimming Centre
We will be applying for funding from a variety of sources, such as the Community Ownership Fund and the Lottery Community Fund but we are also asking local residents and businesses to help us raise some of our funds, as we will need to part match the funding we get from other sources.
We are aiming to raise £40,000 from the Birtley Swimming Centre Crowdfunding campaign this autumn, which would give us 40% of our overall funding requirement. £8,000 of the Crowdfunding target will come from Sport England, so the amount we are hoping to raise from the local community would be £32,000. That might sound a lot, but it actually represents less than £2 per person from the 18,000 people who live in the Birtley area.
Our Crowdfunding target
We have set our overall Crowdfunding target at £40,000 but we will need to raise at least £20,000 to access the funding from Sport England.
Making a donation
You can make a donation to the fund at the top of the Crowdfunding page by selecting the amount you want to donate and clicking on the donate button.
Buying a reward
You can also purchase one or more of the rewards that are shown on the right-hand side of the page.
What is a reward?
Crowdfunding rewards are things that have been donated by supporters or local businesses which other people can purchase on the Crowdfunding page at a discounted price.
- Many of our supporters have donated items that someone else may wish to buy.
- Many local businesses have donated goods or services which they normally sell.
- Some supporters have also offered up their time or premises for free as rewards.
If you would like to buy a reward, please click on the relevant “select reward” button at the top of this Crowdfunding web page.
Obtaining your rewards once purchased
Physical rewards will be available for collection from the foyer at Birtley Methodist church hall on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 0900 and 1200 during the Crowdfunding campaign. The entrance to the foyer is on Morris Street, Birtley, DH3 1DU
People who have purchased these rewards should come to this location between 0900 and 1200 on one of these days and bring with them either a printed copy of the email they received from Crowdfunder or be able to show the email on their phone. The reward item will then be obtained from the storage room by one of the Crowdfunding team and given to the purchaser.
Spreading the word
To help us reach our stretch target of £40,000, please share our Crowdfunding page with your family and friends using your social media applications or other mechanisms and encourage them to support us. The link to our Crowdfunding page is as follows: